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Public Works Blog

Helping out your county snowplow operators this winter

Posted On: December 06, 2017

Chances are if you live in Chelan County, you’ve come across a county snowplow at work.

When a snow event hits, county snowplows take to the roads weekdays around 5 a.m. The 30-ton red trucks plow snow from the front while spreading anti-icing materials from the back. Snowplow operators work quickly, typically clearing a roadway in minutes before moving onto the next stretch of snow-covered roadway.

While snowplow operators are working hard to keep people safe on county roads, they need a little help from the traveling public. We’re passing along five tips on how you can do your part to travel safely alongside the county snowplows:

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.

Along with the above on-the-road tips, there are a few things you can do at home to help out your county snowplow operator. Don’t park anything in the roadway during the winter and keep other obstacles, such as garbage cans, out of the street. In addition, don’t shovel snow from your driveway into the roadway. Not only is it against county code, but it can create an obstruction for the county plow and the traveling public.

And, lastly, if you clear a space before your driveway, on the down traffic side, you’ve made some room for the snow the plow is pushing along the roadway toward your property. This will help increase your chances that snow from the plow will be deposited in the cleared space, not back in your freshly-shoveled driveway. 

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