AP NEWS

Plow drivers ask for cooperation on the roads

January 31, 2019

Snowplow operators are experiencing more and more accidents and close calls with the same people and vehicles they are trying to help.

The modern plow trucks are very large machines, equipped with a front plow (12 feet wide), side wing plow (9 feet wide), a computer-controlled salt/liquid deicing material spreader, LED lights and mirrors in many places to help operators see all sides of their equipment. A fully equipped and loaded tri-axle plow truck weighs in at more than 60,000 pounds, measures 21 feet wide with the wing plow down, 38 feet long and 13 feet tall.

The people who operate these trucks in all types of weather, both by day and by night, are tasked with a challenging duty. They basically climb aboard, plow/salt and plow/salt until the storm is over. Many times the roads are snow-covered and slippery. At times visibility is zero and temperatures are subzero. They can be required to work around the clock for several days with a standard work policy of 16 hours on duty and six hours off between shifts.

A typical Dodge County highway snowplow route is 17 miles long or 34 lane miles. It may take two hours or more for a truck to make one pass through the route.

Freezing rain, wind and heavy snow are some of the challenges nature delivers for these operators. They are part of the job and can’t be controlled. However, there are other challenges of the human nature that can be addressed and hopefully minimized or eliminated. Some of the common concerns plow operators face are:

-- Motorists driving too fast for conditions. Slow down when it’s slippery.

-- Motorists following too closely behind the truck. In many cases, vehicles are so close the operator cannot see them in their mirrors. Operators need to be able to safely back up and reposition the truck several times to adequately clear an intersection. Vehicles in their blind spots or following too closely are a hazard. Stay back 200 feet and allow the operators to safely do their job.

-- Drivers passing plow trucks under slippery conditions. This is not recommended unless the truck is doing shoulder/ditch winging and the pavement is dry.

-- At times the plow operators encounter vehicles approaching them with snow and ice covering the windshield. Clear the entire windshield, side windows and mirrors to provide safe visibility in all directions.

What highways and roads are plowed and at what time?

The Class 1 roads receive 24-hour service. Class 1 roads are Interstate 41, U.S. Highway 151, state Highway 60 from state Highway 67 to Hartford, state Highway 26 from state Highway 60 to Watertown, and state Highway 33 from Beaver Dam to the east county line.

The Class 2 roads receive coverage from 4 a.m.-10 p.m. Class 2 roads are state Highway 73 from state Highway 33 to Columbus, state Highway 33 from state Highway 73 to Beaver Dam, state Highway 16/60 and 60 from Columbus to state Highway 67, state Highway 26 from state Highway 60 to Waupun, and all of the state highways 68, 175, 28, 67 and 49.

All county roads receive coverage from 4 a.m.-6 p.m.

It should be everyone’s goal to:

-- Minimize traveling in poor weather conditions.

-- Allow additional travel time if traveling is required.

-- Slow down to a safe speed based on conditions.

-- Dim high beam headlights when approaching or following snowplowing equipment.

-- Follow snow removal equipment at a safe distance, 200 feet is the recommended minimum distance.

-- Never pass a plow truck on a slippery road.

-- Give consideration to plow operators at all times. Do not pull out in front of them from a stop sign at an intersection. The plow trucks are heavy and do not stop as quickly as a car or light truck can.

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