So far this season across Idaho, drivers have caused eight crashes with snowplows. As more winter weather moves across the state, the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) wants to remind drivers how to be safe around snowplows.
1. Never pass a plow on the right. Plows have a smaller wing plow that extends from the right side of the vehicle, which can be hard to see when the snow is flying. Drivers passing on the right and hitting the wing plow is the most common plow-related crash.
2. Give plows room to work and avoid their blind spots.
3. Be patient. The safest place to be is behind the plow.
4. Plows often work in tandem to clear multiple lanes. Never get in between the tandem plows.
5. If you are involved in a crash or stopped on the side of the road for any reason, please remain in your vehicle for your safety and for the safety of our plow operators.
The seventh and eighth crashes happened today in North Idaho, and both involved tandem plows. This morning on Interstate 90 in Coeur d’Alene, a driver got between two plows as they merged onto the highway. The driver then hit the brakes, forcing the second plow off the road to avoid a collision. Then around lunchtime on U.S. Highway 95 south of Athol, a driver passed the first plow on the left and then struck the second while trying to pass on the right.
Both plows are now out of service for the current storm.
“This issue affects everyone, not just the people involved in the crash. Every plow that is hit causes a domino effect making conditions worse,” said Operations Foreman Shannon Thornton. “There are fewer plows on the road to deal with the snow that is still falling, and our crews have to spend precious time recovering equipment instead of plowing.”
Last winter, there were 11 plow strikes, an increase from years past and a number that ITD does not want to repeat. Please be careful driving and mindful of our plows. Check 511.idaho.gov or the Idaho 511 App for road conditions before traveling. For more winter driving tips, visit itd.idaho.gov/travel.