Editorial - Don't be a snow plow statistic; be careful out thereAnother weekend – another two days of cars and trucks sliding off the road or into one another.
Another weekend – another two days of cars and trucks sliding off the road or into one another.
Troopers in the west central and northern region of the state responded to 45 vehicles that slid off the road. Troopers were also called to an additional 25 crashes – 10 of those were rollovers and four resulted in injuries.
There are a lot of slippery dangers out there and road crews are not to blame. They’re putting down salt (which, of course, drivers can’t see) but the salt doesn’t work when temperatures are so cold. They’re also putting down load after load of sand but, whipped away by wind or carried off by vehicles, it doesn’t stay on the roads very long.
Instead of getting angry at road crews, drivers would be better served to focus that energy on their own driving habits by slowing down, adjusting to the conditions, avoiding tailgating and practicing defensive driving skills.
Another very important piece of advice for drivers to follow is to respect snow plows. Too many drivers aren’t doing this. Another crash happened again this past Friday on Interstate-94 just outside of Moorhead between a Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) snow plow and a semi.
Both vehicles were westbound when the semi rear-ended the snow plow and both units ended up in the median. Both units were severely damaged and had to be towed from the scene. Thankfully, the injuries were not believed to be serious.
The latest crash marked the second time that the snow plow driver has been hit during his nine-year career with MnDOT.
Already this winter, there have been 76 crashes involving state snow plows, according to Jesse Grabow, a trooper for this region. He said the crashes are typically caused by inattentive drivers or by motorists driving too close.
Grabow pointed out that snowplow trucks can be twice as wide as a semi truck. They are rigged with a plow that extends 12 to 15 feet out from the front of the truck and an 8 to 10 foot-wide side-wing plow. “Operators have much to monitor and control and their ability to see behind them is limited by side mirrors,” Grabow said. “Their vision can also be hampered by the snow clouds they create while plowing.”
Drivers of all vehicles should follow this advice from the Minnesota State Patrol:
• Keep a safe stopping distance between vehicles and stay at least five car lengths behind snow plows or other removal equipment.
• Never drive into a snow cloud.
• Give yourself plenty of travel time; don’t put your schedule before safety.
Sticking to those three simple steps during this slippery, snowy time of year will make the roads safer for everyone.
Echo Press editorials are the position of the newspaper’s editorial board, which includes Jody Hanson, publisher; Al Edenloff, editor; and news reporter, Celeste Beam.