MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Incoming weekend snow will bring more snowplows to the roads Saturday and Sunday.

That means motorists should be extra careful to avoid crashes with snowplows, the Minnesota Department of Transportation says.

Statewide, 84 vehicles crashed with snowplows last year; 58 of them were in the Twin Cities metro area.

Acting state maintenance engineer Todd Stevens says distracted driving, driving too close to the plow, and going too fast on snowy roads are the main causes of crashes with snowplows.

“Our drivers are well-trained to drive their plows, but motorists should be patient, stay back from the plow, and only pass when it is safe to do so,” he said.

Snowplows travel much slower than the speed limit, which is the most effective way to clear roads, Stevens says.

Operators can’t clearly see behind the truck, so they have to rely on their mirrors.

“Their vision is also hampered by the snow clouds created while they plow. So, the safest place you can be is well behind the snowplow and behind the snow cloud it creates,” Stevens said.

Even during the day, Minnesota law requires drivers to turn on their headlights when it’s snowing. The law also applies during rain, sleet or in other weather conditions when visibility is lowered.

MnDOT offers some safety tips for driving snowplows this season:

  • Stay back at least 10 car lengths behind the plow. Don’t drive into a snow cloud.
  • Slow down to a safe speed for road conditions.
  • Turn on your headlights and wear your seat belt.
  • Don’t use cruise control.

Drivers can check road conditions at 511mn.org.

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