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Motorists driving dangerously near plows, says WYDOT

Jan 10, 2018 From staff reports

Following a handful of near misses on roadways this winter snow plow drivers are asking for more caution from motorists.

Plow drivers are reporting risky behavior from drivers this winter, including passing the Wyoming Department of Transportation's new tow plow in Fremont County, passing other trucks, and tailgating.

Driving near snow plows requires patience and extra care, WYDOT officials say.

"Stay well back from operating snow plows," said WYDOT district maintenance engineer Lyle Lamb of Basin. "They are spreading sand and anti-icing and de-icing chemicals on the roadway."

The department's bright yellow snow plows normally are highly visible and easy to identify. When working the roads, the trucks have amber, red and blue flashing lights mounted on top of the cab and on the back of the sanders.

Drivers actually assist in the road-clearing process if they drive properly, Lamb noted.

"Our guys have been out there spreading sand and using salt brine to break up ice," Lamb continued. "Please drive on the areas where sand the chemicals are being applied. This driving behavior helps break up the snow and ice."

Passing a snowplow is strongly discouraged. Plows usually pull over after a relatively short period of travel, allowing motorists to proceed.

When plowing, With limited visibility, snow plow drivers can't see vehicles behind them if the vehicles are too close to the plows. If a following driver can't see the plow truck's rear-view mirrors, the driver can't see the vehicle.

"Remember, the safest driving surface is behind the plow. If you must pass, don't pass on the right into the plume of snow being moved," Lamb said. "Be sure on two-lane highways that you have plenty of time to pass. Keep a close watch, because these huge plows often stir up their own whiteout conditions while doing their work."

A tow plow was used extensively for the first time last winter in the Riverton and Lander areas, and other parts of the state. A second tow plow in northwest Wyoming will be assigned to the Cody and Powell areas this year.

It is much larger than a regular plow, and passing it while it is operating is extremely hazardous, Lamb said.

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