January 19, 2022

How Can I Drive Safely near a Snowplow?

drive safely

A snowplow is much more than another vehicle on the roadway. A plow is tall, heavy, and very large. It does the very important job of improving road conditions by plowing snow out of travel lanes and laying down materials that improve traction.

Snowplows often travel below the posted speed limit. The amount of snow and the roadway’s general layout greatly affect how fast a plow could travel while removing snow. Because a plow is heavy, large, and tall, most private passenger vehicles take the worst of the damage in a collision with one.

A car accident with a snowplow easily could result in catastrophic injuries for people in most vehicles that people buy for daily driving. A 4,000-pound car is small and has a very low center of gravity compared with a snowplow. And the plow could have the added weight of sand, salt, or other ice-melting materials.

So that you do not have to become involved in an accident with a snowplow, the following tips could help you to stay safe. They also could help you to identify the best travel lanes during heavier snows.

Stay Farther Back than Normal

Depending on where you are located and the outdoor temperature, the plow could be doing more than pushing snow out of the way. It also might spread deicer, road salt, or sand onto the roadway. The closer you follow a plow that is depositing material that is supposed to improve traction, that material would get onto your car. Sand and road salt could cause damage to your paint and other exterior surfaces.

Do Not Pass a Road Plow that Is Clearing a Lane

When you are driving behind a plow, you might be tempted to pass it. Unless that plow is pushing snow off of the shoulder, you never should pass a snowplow. There are good reasons why you should stay put, even if it slows you down.

A snowplow that is clearing snow from a lane of traffic is leaving the roadway behind it in much better shape. If you pass the snowplow, you might wind up traveling on a much worse road surface. It is much easier to just slow down and let the plow improve the road ahead.

Watch Out for Flying Debris

Road plows use one of two types of plow attachments for snow removal. One is an angled piece of very large steel that the plow pushes ahead of the vehicle. The other is a blade that drags beneath the plow about halfway between the front and rear axles. Both can produce debris that could damage your vehicle if you get too close.

A plow could throw rocks, chunks of ice, and other debris that could damage your vehicle. That debris includes just about anything that could collect in or on the side of the road. Metal objects and chunks of frozen earth easily could get tossed around by a plow.

Plow Drivers Often Have Limited Visibility

If a plow is moving a lot of snow and road debris, it is a good idea to stay well away from the plow. A plow could throw snow into your path that causes you to lose traction.

Flying snow from the plowing action often will reduce the plow driver’s visibility. So could a large blade that is mounted to the front of the plow and throws some debris onto the road.

A plow driver usually cannot see what is behind the plow other than what side mirrors reveal. Some newer models could have rearview cameras that do show traffic that is behind plows. However, it is best to assume a plow driver has blind spots on either side and behind the truck.

Give Oncoming Plows Plenty of Room

If you see a plow coming toward you on a two-lane road or highway, it needs lots of room. A plow and its snow blade are large enough to clear snow from an entire lane on a road.

A plow that takes up an entire travel lane likely will encroach on other traffic lanes. On a two-lane road, it could encroach on your travel lane.

You need to move over as much as possible to give the plow plenty of room to go past. The blade might leave a small amount of snow and other debris in your path.

The plow might have to move to clear roadside obstacles, such as utility poles, mailboxes, or hillsides. You need to make sure that the plow has plenty of room to do that.

Keep Headlights and Taillights Clear of Snow and Ice

In addition to giving a plow lots of room, you want to ensure your vehicle is as visible as possible. The best way to do that is to use your headlights and taillights and clear away any snow, ice, or slush that might cover them.

When you drive in sloppy road conditions while it is snowing, that precipitation can accumulate on your headlights and freeze in place. Snow, slush, and ice can effectively block your headlights or taillights and make your car less visible.

You should take the time to clear away any snow, ice, or slush prior to heading out on the road. When you make stops along the way, you should check the lights and clear them of any precipitation.

The limited visibility that snowplow drivers have makes it hard enough to see vehicles. Ensuring yours has lights that are clear and work will help to make your car more visible.

Learn the Local Emergency Routes

All well-run communities have specific routes that are designated as emergency routes. Those are the roads that first responders primarily use when answering calls for help. When it is snowing heavily outside, the emergency routes are the first to get plowed. They also have the priority for road maintenance throughout the winter.

If you know the local emergency routes near you, it can be easier and safer to get to and from work if you use those routes. Most state highways and major county roads are designated as emergency routes. If any are located near you, they could be cleared first when a snowstorm makes driving more treacherous.

Norristown Car Accident Lawyers at Anthony C. Gagliano III, P.C., Help Clients Recover from All Vehicle Accidents

If you are involved in an accident with a snowplow, reach out to the Norristown car accident lawyers at Anthony C. Gagliano III, P.C. Our legal team will thoroughly investigate the cause of the accident and help secure the compensation for which you are entitled. Call us at 267-861-7100 or visit our website to set up a free consultation. Located in Philadelphia, we serve clients in Philadelphia, Montgomery County, Delaware County, and Norristown.