Winter is just around the corner. Municipalities, cities, DOTs, and others are gearing up for the winter by preparing their snowplow crews and equipment. We can all learn valuable lessons from these agencies by preparing our vehicles and ourselves for the upcoming season.
Snowplows serve to make the community and roads passable during the worst winter weather. Snowplows are fitted with heavy, wide plows on the front of the truck to clear as much snow and ice from the road as possible – this means sometimes they may cross the center line, shoulder of the road or make other moves in their effort to provide a driving surface the general public can navigate. If you encounter a plow, slow down and give them the space they need to perform their task. Your best chance to arrive at your destination safely is to stay behind the plow as the worst of the conditions are in front of the plow. It’s important that everyone, from individual drivers to plow operators, stay safe on the road to get home safely so here are some tips.
Prepare your vehicle
It is good practice to maintain your vehicle year round, however it is especially important to winterize your vehicle to avoid the dangers of frigid winter weather.
Check the following before snow begins to fall:
- Wiper blades and windshield washer fluid
- Ignition system
- Electrical system
- Heater and defrost system
Additionally, it’s recommended to carry blankets, booster cable, a flashlight and extra batteries, snow scraper and shovel.
- Give snowplows room to do their job. It’s best practice to not tailgate or try to pass a snowplow while it’s in working.
- As a general rule, stay at least 200 feet behind a snowplow.
- Plows pushing snow can create a cloud which can blind drivers who are following too closely.
- These are large, heavy vehicles and the drivers are intent on their task at hand, don’t be another distraction to the plow driver. They cannot stop in a short distance.
- There may be spreaders on trucks to distribute salt or sand on the road, these can cause damage to cars if driving too close, stay back to protect your car and you.
- Always turn on your headlights, and have plenty of fuel and wiper fluid (carrying an extra gallon is a good idea) and have appropriate tires for winter driving conditions.
- Don’t over estimate your braking capabilities, many 4 X 4 vehicles are heavier than normal, thus the braking distance is greater. Your traction is determined by weight and tire tread. Sand or cat litter in your trunk will add weight and can be used if you do need help with traction.
- Leave extra space between you and the vehicles in front and behind you.
- Bridge decks freeze first so take extra caution when driving on these.
- Remember to always buckle up!
- Ignore the phone and email until you get to your destination. There are other people on the road that deserve your attention.
- Most importantly, SLOW DOWN!