HARRISBURG – For your safety, the safety of other motorists and the safety of state and municipal snowplow crews, drivers must use common sense and take extra precautions when driving near operating snowplows, according to acting PennDOT Secretary Scott Christie, P.E.
So far this winter, 12 PennDOT plow trucks have been struck by motorists.
“Plow operators are driving a nearly 60,000-pound vehicle while controlling one, two or sometimes three plows; monitoring salt spreading; keeping an eye out for mailboxes, parked cars and other roadside obstacles and driving in near-zero visibility due to snow spray created by the plow,” Christie said. “Please slow down, back off and give extra room to snowplow operators – their jobs are challenging enough without having to deal with impatient or unsafe motorists.
To help keep motorists and plow operators safe, PennDOT urges drivers to follow these tips:
- Stay Back: Stay at least six car-lengths behind an operating plow and remember that the main plow is wider than the truck – usually between 11- to 14-feet wide depending on the model of truck. Wing plows, which are located on one or both sides of the truck, are generally 10-feet wide.
- Remain Alert: Snowplows generally travel much more slowly than other traffic and may, at times, be completely obscured due to blowing snow or heavy snowfall rates. This is especially true in open areas where high winds can create zero visibility without warning.
- Move Over: Move as far away from the centerline of road as safely as possible when approaching a snowplow head-on and remember that snow spray can obscure the actual snowplow width.
- Never Pass: Never try to pass or get between several trucks plowing side by side in a “plow train.” The weight of the snow thrown from the plow can quickly cause smaller vehicles to lose control, creating a hazard not only for the vehicle’s operator but also the snowplow driver and other vehicles.
- Don’t Drive Beside: Never travel next to a snowplow since plows can quickly move sideways when hitting drifts or cutting through heavy snowpack.
- Headlights On: Keep your lights on when driving near snowplows to help the operator better see your vehicle. Under state law, headlights must be turned on every time a vehicle’s wipers are on due to inclement weather.
Motorists are reminded that they can check road conditions on more than 2,900 miles of state roads by calling 511 or visiting www.511PA.com. 511PA, which is free and available 24 hours a day, provides traffic delay warnings, weather forecasts, average traffic speeds on urban interstates and access to more than 500 traffic cameras. The 511 site also provides easy-to-use, color-coded winter road conditions for all interstates and other routes covered in the 511 reporting network. Regional Twitter alerts are also available on the 511PA website.
PennDOT reminds motorists to pack an emergency kit for their vehicles. A basic kit should include non-perishable food, water, blanket, small shovel and warm clothes. When preparing an emergency kit, motorists should take into account special needs of passengers such as baby food, pet supplies or medications and pack accordingly.
For more winter driving tips and information on how PennDOT treats winter storms, visit www.dot.state.pa.us/winter.
Follow PennDOT on Twitter at www.twitter.com/PennDOTNews.