Skip to main content

Montana Snowplow Safety Tips

Winter is upon us, and so is the snow. Snowplows will be out to make the roads safe, but driving while they’re out means following basic snowplow safety. Follow our tips to remain safe around them this winter.

Do Not Pass a Snowplow

Snowplows typically operate well below the posted speed limits so it’s tempting to just drive around them. But you should resist this urge. Doing so is extremely dangerous.
Snowplows and the people who drive them are trying to remove snow, ice, and other dangerous conditions from the roadway. The safest way for them to do that is driving along at about 45 miles an hour. They don’t drive that slow to annoy other drivers. They are just doing their jobs.
If you do try to pass a snowplow, they will attempt to let you, but conditions in front of the snowplow may be treacherous. The snow may still be on the road. That is why the snowplows are out in the first place.

The other danger is that the snowplow driver may not be able to see you. Snowplows are large trucks with big blades pushing billowing snow. The plow itself can obstruct the driver’s view of the road. The snow only makes it worse. It is very difficult for a snowplow driver to see a small car zipping around them close to their mirrors in heavy snow. It is safer to slow down and follow the snowplow at a safe distance.

Do Not Tailgate a Snowplow

If you decide to stay behind a snowplow, do not follow too closely. There are two dangers in regards to snowplow safety and tailgating: the first is the snowplow driver being able to see you, and the second being a severely reduced stopping distance.

A snowplow driver can only see you when you are driving behind it and can see its side mirrors. The nature of the truck is that the snowplow driver usually does not have access to a rear-view mirror like you do in most passenger cars. Make sure the driver can see you in the side mirrors by being far enough behind them.

The second danger of following too closely in snowy conditions is that you will not be able to stop quickly enough to avoid a rear-end collision. In the ice and snow your vehicle’s brakes are less effective. It takes longer for them to work. If you are too close, you will not have enough time to stop. You will cause an accident, and slow everyone down.

Also, slamming on the brakes could cause you to lose control of your car. Most fatal accidents in snowy conditions are caused when drivers lose control of their vehicles. Stay safe. Give yourself plenty of room to stop. Drive slowly, and do not slam on your brakes in the snow.

Keep Parked Vehicles of Residential Streets

If you are waiting for your residential streets to be plowed, try your best to keep your street clear of parked cars. Parked cars clog streets and make it difficult for city plows to do their work. If you can, work with your neighbors to place vehicles only on one side of the street.

Do Not Let Kids Play Near Plows

Snowplow drivers can find it hard to see in their large vehicles while working in snowy conditions. Keep children away from plows and sidewalks on roads where plows are at work. The drivers cannot see them, and the children can get hurt.

Practicing snowplow safety can save not only your life but the lives of others on the road. If you get into an accident in snowy conditions that wasn’t your fault, The Advocates are available 24/7 to take your questions.