Sep 7, 2020 9:20:16 PM / Brooke Loeffler /

Snow Plow Etiquette

Did you know that over 70% of the US population lives in areas that receive more than 5 inches of annual snowfall? That means that over 229 million Americans are sharing the road with snow plows all winter long. Knowing how to safely drive alongside our brave snow fighters reduces accidents for everyone on the road. Here are some helpful driving safety tips to help you brush up on your snow plow etiquette.

Snow Plow Etiquette

When driving near snow plows, we must all pay extra attention to visibility, distance, passing, speed, and echelon plowing.


Ice Slicer Snow Plow Etiquette Infographic

Visibility

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)

Distance

Snow plows require a larger bubble of safety around them than other vehicles.

  • Stay a safe 10 car distance behind snow plows (while operating, snow plows 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 snow plow blade)
  • Don’t crowd the plow (snow plows are much wider than other vehicles and can have wings or attachments that extend far beyond the actual plow)
  • Snow plows turn around and exit the road frequently and without warning, so give them plenty of room to operate safely

Passing

  • Never pass a snow plow on the right (snow is being plowed to the right side of the road and snow plows have a larger blind spot on the right)
  • Allow yourself plenty of room ahead of the snow plow 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 snow plows can create ridges of snow between lanes that can be hazardous to drive over

Speed

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)
  • Snow plows 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

Echelon plowing is when snow plows 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)

Other General Safety

Here are a few more general safety guidelines for driving around snow plows:

  • Turn off cruise control and other auto-driving features (it is essential you maintain full control of your car during hazardous driving conditions)
  • Avoid sudden braking, acceleration, and maneuvers (slow and controlled movements will help you avoid skids and help other drivers see and understand your intentions)
  • Remember snow plows are a lot heavier than regular vehicles, especially when loaded with salt (and will have comparatively delayed reactions)
  • Stay alert (just because you are being safe, it doesn’t mean other drivers around you will take the same precautions)
  • Watch for stranded or spun out vehicles (unlike during normal conditions, these cars may not have had a chance to move to the roadside)

Ice Slicer’s Winter Partnership

Ice Slicer is proud to partner up with snow plows every winter in restoring roads to safe and drive-able conditions. Our naturally high performing products are the perfect tool for snow fighters to quickly create brine, improve traction, and keep roads clear for longer. We are happy to provide snow fighters with the tools they need for this fight. Click here to learn how to calibrate your snow plows so they spread salt efficiently all winter long.

 

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