On snowy roads, watch out for the wings

Snow plow wingsWith expectations high for the most significant lowland snow accumulations so far this season, Idaho Transportation Department plows are out in force preparing the roadways for safe travel. Nearly all of ITD’s plows are equipped with not just a plow on the front, but also a wing plow on the right side allowing an additional 10 feet of reach with each pass. Unfortunately, despite being marked with lights and flags, these wing plows are often overlooked by drivers.

Last year there were 17 plow strikes across the state of Idaho, many of which involved people attempting to pass on the right who then struck the wing plow.

Even minor impacts with a plow can cause significant damage to other drivers’ vehicles; crashes also frequently take plows out of service for that storm and up to weeks at a time for repair.

“Of course, when a plow gets hit, the safety of everyone involved is what we worry about most. Beyond that, people should also understand the time and cost involved with those crashes and what the implications of that are for our force,” explained Foreman TJ Gibson.

“Each and every one of those machines is critical to our ability to keep the roads clear, so when one goes out of service from a crash, that means the risk goes up for everyone.”

While operators work in some of the worst weather conditions in the region, often times the biggest threat to their safety is other drivers.

A few winter driving tips for all drivers:
  • Slow down.
  • Buckle up.
  • Give the plows and operators space to work- that means three to four car lengths of distance behind the trucks. Remember, as plows are clearing the road of snow in front of them they are also treating the underlying roadway with snow-fighting materials.
  • Never pass a plow on the right.

Know before you go — ITD encourages travelers to use Idaho 511, either online or in the app, for current road conditions during weather events. This weekend, and all winter long, ITD wants to remind drivers to slow down, be patient, and understand that the safest place is behind the plow!

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