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Drivers Are Reminded About Snowplow Safety

For Immediate Release: Friday, January 27, 2017

Contact: Kristi Sandal, Public Information Officer, 605-773-3265



PIERRE, S.D. – South Dakota Department of Transportation officials remind motorists to use extra caution when encountering snowplows that are clearing highways, shoulders and ditches.


So far this winter season, there have been 12 crashes where a private vehicle has run into one of the department’s snowplows while they were doing snow removal operations both on and off the highway.


Director of Operations Greg Fuller says crashes happen for a variety of reasons, but generally occur because drivers are inattentive, overdriving road conditions and/or underestimating the speed at which plows travel.


“The safety of drivers and our snowplow operators is the department’s number one priority,” says Fuller. “We ask drivers to exercise an abundance of caution when coming up behind a snowplow, meeting a snowplow, or when encountering equipment doing work on the shoulders and in the ditches by slowing down, staying back a safe distance and giving them room to do their work.”


Two of the 12 crashes this year involved private vehicles hitting and causing extensive damage to two snowplows that were parked on the shoulder assisting crews performing snow-blowing operations in the right of way. When large amounts of snow accumulate in the ditches and along the shoulder, crews will take advantage of the nicer weather to move the snow further back from the roadway. This is done for motorist safety to reduce drifting from blowing snow and it also frees up storage space in the ditches for future snow events.


Motorists are reminded of the “Move Over” law which states that motorists must move over for vehicles displaying flashing red or amber lights.


Our snowplows are on the road for your safety. When you encounter a snowplow, remember:

  • Plows travel slowly, usually 25-30 miles per hour or less. If you have to pass, keep in mind the snowplow driver may have a difficult time seeing you.
  • Snowplows cause soft snow to swirl. It can become difficult or impossible to see the plow and the roadway, and also for the plow driver to see you. Do not pass a plow in a snow cloud, be patient and wait for the driver to pull over to allow traffic to pass.
  • Never pass a plow on the right. Some snowplows are equipped with a wing plow - an eight foot extension off the right side of the truck.
  • Plows aren't just removing snow. They may also be spreading sand or deicer on the road. Maintain a safe distance behind the snowplow to avoid being sprayed.




**Pictures from snow removal operations on SD 63 are available on our Flickr page: https://www.flickr.com/photos/sddot/albums/72157679007838036