Give Snowplows Room to Groom

Posted By: Public Works on February 12, 2019

Give Snowplows Room to Groom image

Chelan County road crews have been hard at work, working to keep up with the heavy snow systems that have been hitting northcentral Washington for the past several days.

Take a close-up look at the crew in the Leavenworth District working in this video made by the Chelan County Public Works Traffic Safety department. Also captured on the video is a WSDOT grader in the Leavenworth District.

When large snow events occur, county crews concentrate on major arterials and roadways, listed as Priority 1 and Priority 2 roads on the Chelan County Snow & Ice Removal Priorities Map. Priority 3 roads may not get cleared for a couple days so snowplows can stay on schedule under adverse conditions. Back-to-back weather events may slow snowplows from getting to all roads on their routes, as they concentrate on those more heavily traveled roads.

Citizens are encouraged to review Chelan County snowplow priority routes to determine what kind of roads they live on, or the routes they must travel on. Motorists are reminded not to drive in snow drifts or in conditions of low visibility. They are also reminded to remove any vehicles from the roadway so plows can work. In cases of heavy snow events, citizens should stay off the roads if possible.

If you come upon a snowplow, please remember:

1.When you find yourself driving behind a snowplow, stay at least 150 feet back (that’s about 12 car lengths). It’s especially important to maintain that distance at intersections or on grades, in case the snowplow loses traction on the icy road. Keeping your distance also allows for that extra space needed for the spreading of anti-icing materials from the rear of the truck.

2.Whether traveling behind the snowplow or approaching it, keep an eye out for snow and other debris that may fly off the plow or a sander. In addition, snowplows can throw up a cloud of snow that may reduce your visibility. Never drive into a snow cloud – it could conceal a snowplow that’s in front of you.

3. When approaching a snowplow, stay out of the way and pull to the right as far as safely possible. The plows mounted on the trucks are 12 feet wide. County roads range from 16 feet to 35 feet wide. That means the plow may be slightly over the center line while working on area roads.

4. If you find yourself behind a snowplow, consider staying put. It’s best not to pass a snowplow in wintery conditions. Keep in mind that snowplow drivers oftentimes have obstacles in the roadway, such as parked cars, that they may have to suddenly avoid.

5. As in any good practice, when pulling out of a driveway, always assume the driver cannot see you. Take extra precaution to look for an approaching snowplow. Given the winter conditions and the size of the truck, it can take a snowplow longer to stop.

As a reminder, if you see a snowplow with it's plow up, that doesn't mean the driver is not working. The driver may be applying sand or de-icing agents, or the driver may be searching for rocks, debris, icy areas or other problems on the roadway.