DOT warns drivers about slow moving snow movers

ALBANY — With snow already falling across the state and more on the horizon, New York State Department of Transportation Acting Commissioner Paul A. Karas and New York State Thruway Authority Acting Executive Director Matthew Driscoll reminded motorists: ‘Don’t Crowd the Plow.’

When clearing roads, plow trucks travel at about 35 MPH, usually below the posted speed limit. Plow trucks have large blind spots and cannot stop quickly, meaning motorists should stay safe by giving the them plenty of room to work.

Department of Transportation Acting Commissioner Paul A. Karas said, “Snow plows are huge, heavy vehicles with wide blind spots, making it imperative that motorists ‘Don’t Crowd the Plow’ by giving them space and not darting around or in front of them. Our practices are not intended to slow motorists down, but to maximize safety. We ask motorists to drive with patience and an abundance of caution during winter weather events.”

Thruway Authority Executive Director Matthew J. Driscoll said, “As winter approaches and plows are deployed across the state, we encourage everyone to slow down and use extra caution when driving during winter conditions. Our plows are out keeping our roads clear of snow and ice so all motorists can get to their destinations safely. When you see one of our vehicles, please give them room to work and don’t crowd the plow.”

Plow trucks drive slowly when clearing and salting roads. Their reduced speed allows salt to stay in travel lanes, limiting the amount that scatters off the road. This saves taxpayer money and minimizes environmental impacts.

Passing snow plows or taking U-turns in front of them can be dangerous for many reasons. A fully loaded plow truck can weigh more than 10 tons and has many blind spots. They cannot maneuver easily or stop quickly. Plowing can create a cloud of snow around the truck that causes limited visibility and whiteout conditions for passing motorists, and also creates a ridge of snow between lanes that makes passing inadvisable. Motorists should stay several car lengths behind plow trucks.

Echelon plowing is used on multi-lane roads when appropriate and involves a truck in each lane clearing snow at the same time. This enhances safety, with snow being pushed from one lane to the next until all lanes are clear.

Tow plows and trained operators are strategically located across the state. The tow plow is attached to the back of a standard plow truck. It can be hydraulically adjusted to swing out to the side of the truck, doubling the plow width and giving operators the ability to simultaneously clear two travel lanes at once.

This increases efficiency and enhances safety, making snow removal faster and more effective. Additionally, it takes the same amount of fuel to plow two travel lanes with a tow plow as it does to plow one travel lane with a traditional plow, saving money and reducing fossil fuel consumption.

The State Department of Transportation responds to storms with more than 1,500 large dump trucks, 50 tow plows and hundreds of other pieces of equipment, including snow blowers, smaller plow trucks, loaders and graders. This equipment, as well as more than 3,500 operators and supervisors, are deployed across the state as necessary in advance of winter storms to help keep roads safe.

The Department of Transportation has 11 Traffic Management Centers located across the state to monitor weather and road conditions. Variable Message Signs are updated remotely to alert motorists when hazardous driving conditions are expected or weather warnings are issued.