I am not a fan of winter driving. I don’t know many people who are. I find this somewhat ironic since I grew up in northern Wisconsin, where winters are known to be rough and the snow plentiful, at least when I lived there. Even more ironic, my father spent decades working for the county to ensure roads were well maintained, especially in the winter.
There were many Christmases where my dad had to go check the road conditions before we could open our presents. We waited impatiently while he made sure the crews were out and that travelers were safe. I admired his dedication but didn’t really understand why this was more important.
When I grew up and started to drive, my dad’s commitment to public safety made more sense. To this day I appreciate the sight of snow plows out clearing and treating the roads to ensure safe passage. It’s a tough job, made even harder by drivers who don’t yield to the plow operators and drive too close or try to maneuver around them. The consequences are not worth the risk.
The Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) recommends the following for safe driving around snowplows:
- Stay alert for snowplows, which turn or exit frequently and often with little warning. They also may travel over centerlines or partially in traffic to further improve road conditions.
- Stay back at least 10 car lengths behind the plow. Don’t drive into a snow cloud.
- Slow down to a safe speed for current conditions.
- Turn on your headlights and wear your seat belt.
- Turn off the cruise control.
- Be patient and remember snowplows are working to improve road conditions for your trip.
- Don’t drive distracted.
So, put the phone down, turn on your headlines (Minnesota law requires motorists to turn on their headlights when it’s snowing or at any other time when weather conditions impair visibility), and SLOW DOWN. We all have places to go, and we all want to get their safely. And a heartfelt thanks to all the dedicated snow plow drivers, emergency responders, tow truck drivers and supervisors like my dad who work so hard to make the roads drivable again.