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Sharing the road with snowplows


Drivers encouraged to be patient on the roads in the winter months
Drivers encouraged to be patient on the roads in the winter months

Matt Casey, staff writer

February 1, 2011 — Many drivers get impatient around snowplows. But trying to get around them can be a very dangerous action.

It's important to share the road with snowplows
It's important to share the road with snowplows

There has been a lot of snow in many parts of Canada this winter. A sight as familiar as snow falling is large snowplows working to clear slippery, snow-covered roads.

The work of a snow-fighter, that's what snowplow operators call themselves, is to keep the roads clear and safe for the drivers who use them. But many times impatient motorists can be tempted to try and pass them. This ends up creating a very dangerous situation.

In some parts of the country there have already been numerous accidents involving snowplows. In January alone, Saskatchewan reported three accidents within a week.

But with a few safety items kept in mind and some patience, both drivers and snowplows can safely share the road.

Plows move slower than regular traffic. Myles Currie is Director of Transportation Services for the city of Toronto. He says, “they travel at a speed that's most effective in removing the snow. In some cases they are also applying salt. We have combination units that plow and salt at the same time.”

Drivers should stay back at least six car-lengths in blizzard conditions
Drivers should stay back at least six car-lengths in blizzard conditions

Drivers need to keep their distance from plows especially when road conditions are extremely poor.

“In almost blizzard-like conditions, drivers should be staying back at least six to eight car-lengths. We would expect that in all conditions, but definitely when the weather is snowy or we happen to see black ice conditions,” adds Currie.

Snowplows have very restricted sight lines. Remember, just because you can see them doesn't always mean they can see you. Currie says that operators are also not expecting people to try and pass them, so it is very dangerous to try and do so.

When stuck behind snow clearing equipment it might take a little longer to reach your destination. Just remember that they are working to keep the roads clear and safe for you.

“Once we start our operation we ask for motorists to be patient. Because the goal is to get those motorists home safely.”

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