The Minnesota Department of Transportation's snow plow operators are trained, experienced and ready to assist motorists in facing another winter driving season.
"We have the equipment, technology and experienced crews to do an excellent job of keeping Minnesota's roadways clear," said Susan Mulvihill, MnDOT director of operations. "We have great confidence in our crews, and we are asking motorists to help us keep the roads safe during winter driving conditions by giving our plows room to work."
Last year there were 103 snowplow/vehicle crashes in Minnesota and 27 of these crashes occurred when vehicles crashed into the back of snow plows. The crashes are typically caused by inattentive drivers or by motorists driving too close.
Snowplow trucks can be twice as wide as a semi truck. They are rigged with a plow that extends 12-15 feet out from the front of the truck and an 8-10 foot wide side wing plow. Operators have so much to monitor and control and their ability to see behind them is limited to side mirrors. Their vision can also be hampered by the snow clouds they create while plowing.
MnDOT urges drivers to follow these safety steps this winter:
- Keep a safe stopping distance between vehicles and stay at least five car lengths behind snow plows or other removal equipment.
- Never drive into a snow cloud.
- Allow plenty of time to travel.
- Clear snow and ice from vehicle windows, hood, headlights, brake lights and directional signals.
- Accelerate and decelerate slowly on icy/snow-covered roads to retain traction and avoid skids.
- Don't "power up" hills, which may cause wheels to spin. Build momentum before reaching a hill and don't stop while traveling uphill. Reduce speed doing downhill.
- Adjust speed to road and weather conditions and avoid using cruise control. Lower speeds help drivers avoid crashes and minimize those that occur.
- Turn headlights on when it is snowing or sleeting.
- Pay attention while driving, do not talk on a cell phone or text while driving.
- Always wear seatbelts.
- Stay home if possible; avoid unnecessary travel.
- Watch for pedestrians-especially children- who may be walking on the street to avoid walking on impassable sidewalks.
MnDOT is working with several other state agencies and a group of safety organizations to sponsor Winter Hazards Awareness Week. For winter driving tips and more winter safety information, visit the Web site winterweather.state.mn.us/WHAH_Home.asp.
For information about road closures and current road conditions call 5-1-1 or visit the Web site 511mn.org. The Minnesota Department of Transportation is now available on Facebook.