Friday, February 3, 2017

PSA – Don’t pass the plow

After the second snowplow in as many weeks was run off the road by a truck driver, it seems like a good time to review a few best practices when operating around the plows. Multiple crashes between commercial trucks and snowplows in the mountains out west suggest that it is time for young and even experienced drivers to review guidelines for safe traveling around those work vehicles. Maybe veteran drivers can share these with some of the younger guys and gals they mentor.

The latest crash occurred around 12:34 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 31, on Interstate 84 near Pendleton, Ore. According to reports, 38-year-old Bryon Kilmer, of Sweet Home, Ore., was cited for unsafe passing on the right after he attempted to pass an Oregon DOT snowplow and instead ended up knocking the vehicle off the road.

Earlier last month, a Utah DOT plow driver was seriously injured when another tractor-trailer passed a plow on the right and struck the vehicle, sending it careening through a guardrail and 300 feet down a snow-covered canyon.

Tom Crowley, a regulatory compliance agent with OOIDA’s Business Services office and former trucker, has also been driving snowplows since 2000. He said the thing all drivers need to remember when they’re behind the plow is that someone’s life isn’t worth the extra 15 minutes you might gain trying to pass.

“Snowplows are really locally oriented,” he said. “It’s not going to stay in front of you for 100 miles. You’re going to follow that plow for 10 or 15 miles, and then it’s going to turn back around and go the other way.”

The Iowa DOT has a handy guide for safe travel around snow plows, and they encourage drivers to keep the following in mind:

  • Don't try to tailgate and try not to pass
  • Don’t crowd the plow; give snow plows room to work
  • Snowplows frequently stop and back up
  • Stay back at least 200 feet
  • Plows travel below the speed limit 
Crowley said even if it’s not snowing when the plow is out, visibility is often reduced by spray coming from the plow blade. The best thing other drivers can do is to give the plow plenty of room.

“They’re out there doing their job, just like you are,” he said. “And without them, you’re not doing yours.”


  1. This is a no brainer, here this plow is trying to help clear the road and these guys with the speed limited trucks with only 2 speeds( WIDE OPEN or STOPPED ) also with their electronic logs have no time for anything and run with the speed right up against the governor' this is what the mega fleets create with their BS driver training

  2. Don't pass the plow ... Ok so now you have a rolling roadblock with how many vehicles ALL tailgating each other because they were traveling faster now following a snowplow that suddenly stops or does a U-turn through the center median. So instead of SAFELY passing the snow plow you'd rather wait for "the big one" to happen behind the snow plow. Your brilliant!

  3. The bottom line the snow plows are out there for our safety so we can go down road now if they're out there moving snow why would you want to pass them and get in front of them where the snow is there just saying

  4. Snakebite. Life MemberFebruary 6, 2017 at 1:13 PM

    Here is the thing. On the internet or Trucking shows on the radio.we are all perfect. We don't throw pee bottles out the window. Lord know none of us would pass a snow plow on the right or even a fellow truck driver. The only place you will find perfect drivers is in here and on the radio. And you wonder why they come up with all these new regulations?
    There is no regulation for common sense. Until people start using common sence. The will be law makers making new regulations to guide your common sense.

  5. Many people pass plows on the right and do so safely, conditions allowing. Slow it down and only do it when there is no spray, good viability etc.

    And yes, people are pressed for time now with elogs and are incentivized to engage in unsafe driving practices to keep their jobs and keep their business out of the red...

    Law of unintended consequences... Many of the safety advancements made since elogs could easily be attributed to better technology (better brakes, collision avoidance etc) and NOT hours of service compliance...

  6. It seems like this year has seen an increase in plows getting pushed off the road - perhaps just because of the media attention to it but this is a well needed article and reminder to all of us. Especially as so many western states keep getting hammered with snow this year. I know Jackson Hole declared a state of emergency due to avalanches, road closures and downed power lines. I've seen a lot with unsafe driving here in MT - Always good to keep a constant reminder to stay safe out there.


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