Knowing how to safely drive alongside our brave snow fighters reduces accidents for everyone on the road. Here are some driving safety tips to help you brush up on your snowplow etiquette.
Visibility naturally decreases during snowfall, making hazardous driving conditions even more dangerous.
- Turn on your lights in order to see and be seen
- Never drive through the “snow cloud” coming off a plow (snow clouds can conceal the true dimensions of a plow, nearby vehicles, and other hazards on the road)
- Drive where you have the greatest visibility (remember that the road behind the plow is much safer than the road in front of the plow)
- Don’t camp out in a snow plow’s blind spots (snow plows have much larger blind spots than other vehicles and just because you can see them, it doesn’t mean they can see you)
Snowplows require a larger bubble of safety around them than other vehicles.
- Stay a safe 10 car distance behind snowplows (while operating, snowplows are dispersing salt and can kick up chunks of ice or other hazards)
- Remember during icy conditions, your vehicle's stopping distance is much greater
- When you see a plow approaching from the other direction, move as far away from them as possible (move over farther than may seem necessary because snow can conceal the true size of the snowplow blade)
- Don’t crowd the plow (snowplows are much wider than other vehicles and can have wings or attachments that extend far beyond the actual plow)
- Snowplows turn around and exit the road frequently and without warning, so give them plenty of room to operate safely
- Never pass a snowplow on the right (snow is being plowed to the right side of the road and snowplows have a larger blind spot on the right)
- Allow yourself plenty of room ahead of the snowplow and do not cut back into the snow plow’s lane too quickly (remember the blade extends far in front of the plow)
- Change lanes carefully because snowplows can create ridges of snow between lanes that can be hazardous to drive over
- As was mentioned earlier, icy conditions greatly increase stopping distances, so watching your speed is essential
- Slow down! (Remember that ice and snow reduce traction between your tires and the road surface)
- Snowplows typically travel under 45 miles an hour (depending upon the road conditions) so slow your speed accordingly to drive safely around them
- Be patient, remember that the safest road surfaces will be behind the plow and not in front of it (resist the temptation to pass unnecessarily)
Echelon plowing is when snowplows operate side by side across multiple lanes of a freeway to clear large areas at once. For high traffic areas, this is an extremely efficient way to get the most important arterial roadways open as quickly as possible.
- Never try to pass an echelon plowing operation
- Never try to drive between echelon plows (snow from the lead plow is being passed to the following plows)
- Be patient and follow echelon plows from a safe distance (it may take you longer to get where you are going, but you will at least get there safely)
Review the City of Lewiston's winter storm response plan and map so you know what to expect in a snowstorm.