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When Storms Hit, Remember To Give Snowplows Room

As the area is hit with its first major snowstorm of the season, the Montana Department of Transportation reminds drivers to give snow plows adequate room for when they are clearing highways and roads. The department provides the following reminders regarding snow plow safety.

* Don’t crowd the plow. Plow drivers have limited visibility so don’t assume your vehicle is in view.

* Maintain a safe distance behind the snowplow. Plows aren’t just removing snow. They may also be spreading sand or deicer on the road.

* Be patient - never pass through a white out. The driver will pull over when it is safe to do so to allow vehicles to pass.

* Slow down. Plows are large and move slower than highway speeds. It is difficult to judge distance when approaching the plow so slow down immediately to avoid a collision.

Before a storm arrives or in the early stages of a storm, MDT may apply winter maintenance chemicals to roadways to prevent snow and ice pack (anti-icing). MDT snowplow operators use justin- time anti-icing guidelines to avoid unnecessary applications based on inaccurate forecasts. Once the anti-icing work is completed, MDT responds to winter storms as they occur and attempts to clear all roads as the snow continues to fall.

Interstates and roads that have the highest volume of traffic are cleared first. Workers continue to clear roads with top priority placed on the most-traveled roads down to areas with lower volumes of traffic. In situations where a storm covers a large area, resources can be stretched beyond available limits. In these situations a system of priorities is followed to provide the best service.

Some routes may be closed for short durations until manpower and equipment are available for snow removal. Decisions to close a road are generally based on concerns for public safety, high difficulty and cost of winter maintenance.

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