AMES, Iowa – March 4, 2013: 5:30 p.m. update – During a major winter storm, as many as 900 Iowa Department of Transportation snowplow trucks may be on the roadways at any given time clearing the highways and applying salt, brine and sand where needed. This is in addition to your local city and county road crews. In anticipation of continued snowfall this evening and during the overnight hours, the Iowa DOT wishes to remind the public that sharing the roadways with slow-moving snow removal equipment requires drivers to exercise extra precautions.
- Stay alert to sudden maneuvers: Snowplow trucks occasionally must make sudden maneuvers to avoid stranded vehicles, posts or emergency operations. They may also be forced outside of their lane of travel when striking hard-packed snow. Stay in the driver’s line of sight and beyond the danger zone (beside or too close behind a truck).
- Never pass a plow team: A plow team consists of several snowplow trucks (often involves a TowPlow and use of wing blades) that work together to clear major multilane highways. The team’s vehicles will cover all lanes of travel in a particular direction and move in a staggered formation. Their objective is to move the plowed snow sideways across multiple lanes and into the adjacent right of way by transferring the snow from truck to truck. Never attempt to pass a snowplow while traveling in this formation either by getting into the mix of vehicles or passing on the highway shoulder.
- Stay back: Stay at least three car lengths back from snowplows and equipment. Operators may be applying salt, sand and brine behind their trucks and across adjacent lanes.
- Remain alert for slow-moving vehicles: Snowplow trucks generally travel at significantly lower speeds than posted limits, around 35 mph. If you see a snowplow vehicle ahead with its flashing lights, begin to slowly adjust your speed according to the road conditions. Give yourself plenty of time and space, and drive defensively by remaining alert to the maneuvers of other nearby vehicles.
- Stay in the line of sight: The plow driver’s field of vision is limited. If you can’t see the plow’s side mirror, the driver can’t see you.