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What’s so dangerous about snowplows?

On Behalf of | Jan 20, 2017 | MVA/Car Accidents

Here’s a very clear-cut lesson that should convince you to leave a little more room next time you’re sharing the road.

We all know that winter weather in Colorado can change quickly. Sunny days can turn into sudden snow squalls, and the potential for icy, slippery roads is never that far off. Fortunately, public works employees are there to help, treating and clearing the roads, around the clock. But what happens when other drivers disobey the rules for staying behind snowplows?

Look out below – and above

A recent accident in South Salt Lake, Utah, highlighted what can go wrong. As a snowplow cleared the snow off a curving road (U.S. 6) in Spanish Fork Canyon, a semitrailer truck began to pass it on the right. That wasn’t the best decision, because of the limited clearance available. Either the truck driver miscalculated the space the truck needed to get past the plow, or the truck slid unexpectedly on the slippery road.

What happened next? The truck bumped the snowplow’s wing (blade). You can imagine how that would send any vehicle, even a heavy snowplow, out of its lane. But the snowplow couldn’t stop-and went careening across two lanes of oncoming traffic, through a guardrail and down a 300-foot embankment.

Fortunately, the snowplow driver survived (with injuries)–and no one else in the vicinity was hurt. But it could have been much, much worse. There was oncoming traffic at the time, but nobody close enough to be impacted at the split second it happened. A few seconds later, however, traumatic injuries or fatalities could easily have occurred. A truck driver going the other way even caught a video of the whole incident on a dashcam. Watching it will convince you to place safety over speed.

What rules of thumb should drivers follow?

To safely maneuver around a snow plow, remember:

  • The driver is doing everything possible to clear the road and is focusing on that task
  • Always stay behind a snowplow that is operating ahead of you
  • Allow about 100 yards of distance between you and the plow
  • Slow down and let them work – be patient

We can all do our best to stay safe when the snow flies, but if you’re involved in a crash as a result of others’ poor decisions, speak to an attorney about your options.