ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) – Fully loaded with salt and brine, MnDOT plow trucks will weigh between 25 and 35 tons. That’s why passing one obscured in a cloud of snow is not only dangerous, it can be deadly.

“We seem to be having a larger than usual number of drivers that are striking our plows,” said Kent Barnard, MnDOT spokesman.

You’d think the day after our roads are cleared would be safer for plow operators, but MnDOT says that is not the case – motorists are driving faster and often dangerously close to crews mopping up after the storm.

According to statewide numbers, more than 60 MnDOT plows have been struck this season – many hit from behind or collisions with side-extended wings.

“We have lights on the wings that blink and flash, but still there’s a lot of snow coming off in a snow cloud and people can’t see that wing,” Barnard said.

It is one gamble that motorists will never win.

“There’s a wing right there that can be on either side of a plow. When it deploys it comes out and you can’t see it and people run into the back of them or the back of the truck,” Barnard said.

To understand how unmovable the plow trucks can be, consider that in a recent collision involving a semitrailer truck, it ended up with the heaviest damage. When the truck hit the plow from behind, the driver ended up in the hospital and the plow driver was uninjured.

So following the February storm, when crews work in tandem, lanes are closed down until the snow is cleared.

“People just have to use common sense,” Barnard said.

Plow drivers say the quicker they can do their jobs the faster motorists get their dry roads back, so slow down and give them plenty of distance for everyone’s safety.

Bill Hudson

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