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Snow Plow Driver Safety

Steve Wagner

As the nasty weather drags on, road workers are put at risk every day while they attempt to prepare, protect, and clear the roads so civilian drivers and pedestrians can be safe and enjoy easier commutes. As a cold-weather prepared city in the Midwest, Indianapolis employs a full fleet of snow plows and drivers, and when the weather gets really bad, they have the budget to hire contracted plow companies to assist in clearing lesser used roads and residential areas.

As one of the more dangerous lines of work, we want to offer a few safety tips for the workers who operate these snow plows, as well as for drivers and pedestrians who may be out in the weather while the snow plows are operating.

Workers Operating a Snow Plow or Clearing Equipment:
While we hope you have all undergone thorough and current training relevant to your line of work, we know that extra safety reminders never hurt! So this winter, remember:

  • Your snow plows are heavy and take much longer to stop than other vehicles. When you are approaching an intersection, and especially a railway crossing, allow at least 15 extra feet of stop time. On the snow and possible ice, you will be thankful for the allowance.
  • When clearing snow, avoid piling it where vision will be obscured. Railway crossings, intersections, sharp corners, and other places where vision may be difficult anyway, will only become more dangerous with piled snow and ice.
  • Avoid following too closely behind another vehicle. Not only is the short distance a danger on the ice and snow, but your snow plow could throw snow, ice, or debris at any time, endangering the lives of those around you on the road.
  • Don’t forget to bundle up! Frostbite is a very real threat to those working outdoors in the winter, and it only takes a few minutes for that wet cold to set in and cause irreversible damage. A waterproof layer of clothing is essential for protecting your skin from the elements.
  • Stay hydrated! Just as important as in the summer months, if you are working out in the elements, your body can become dehydrated quickly, and you can be more susceptible to injury as a result. Make sure you are receiving the breaks you are legally required to have, and take care of yourself during those off-minutes!

Drivers Operating a Vehicle Around a Snowplow:
It can be tempting to drive like normal on the snow, but the risks are so much higher in the elements, and driving around extra equipment and road workers in the hazards only add further risks. Take our advice and follow these steps:

  • Don’t get in a hurry! In the middle of bad weather, your vision will most likely be impaired. Take it slow and watch for other drivers and road workers who are trying to clear the roads for your benefit.
  • Stay home if you can. We know this may not be possible, but the fewer cars on the road during the snow and ice, the better.
  • Don’t get frustrated with the snowplows and road workers! They are there for your benefit and safety. You may be “stuck” behind them for a few minutes, but stay back, stay safe, and let them make the roads better for you.
  • Don’t pass! Unless the snow plow operator gives you the go-ahead, stay several feet behind them and do not attempt to pass. The snow plows are in the process of kicking up snow, ice, and debris, and not only could your car skid and slide in the passing process, but the elements could damage your vehicle in the process.

The most important thing we can encourage you to do in the bad weather is to be patient and respectful of the other drivers on the road, whether they are operating a regular vehicle or heavy machinery. Keep yourself safe, and help protect others on the road as well, and when all else fails, call Wagner Reese for a free workers’ compensation consultation. We are here to help you recover from your accident, because accidents do happen, even when we’re careful. Call us today at (888) 204-8440 if you need assistance.


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