Winter, it is here! We have moved into the time of year when the natural beauty of snow and ice starts to shape into very cold days with unwanted ice, slush and snow drifted highways. Driving in snowy weather conditions is stressful, needing all of your focus; including not losing your cool while snow removal vehicles are sharing the road with you! Here is a short list of tips and information on sharing the roads safely with the snow plows. Approaching a safer winter driving experience is important when having to navigate highways with snow removal vehicles.
- STAY BACK – Always stay back from working snow plows and maintenance vehicles (trucks spraying anti-icing liquid or spreading salt on the roads) that have flashing blue lights. Typically, these vehicles are on the roads and highways before, during and after a snowfall or storm.
- NEVER PASS – Do not pass a working snow plow, it is very dangerous for both the driver and yourself! Visibility can be significantly reduced as lines of sight are disrupted from the blowing snow that the snow plow creates. Trying to pass or maneuver around a snow plow could result in a severe – possibly fatal – crash.
- BE PATIENT – It takes time to clear the roads after a snowfall or winter storm. Please remember snow plows drive in sections, so waiting is usually never more than 20-30 minutes.
- BE RESTED – Be sure you are physically rested and alert while driving. Watch for signs of fatigue if snow plows are impacting your trip time. Pull off the road at a rest stop and take a break!
- BE SEEN – Be sure your vehicle has all the lights and signals visible and that you have cleared all the snow off your car (especially lights) before you head out. Turn on your headlights to see and be seen.
- SLOW DOWN – Give yourself space and time to react, by slowing down and staying at least 10 car lengths behind a snow plow.
There is not a one size fits all approach for snow removal. Winter storms and snowfall can vary, and a wide variety of equipment and materials is needed to keep roads clear. Maintenance crews routinely monitor the weather and highway conditions. Types of materials used in snow removal can include:
- Sand to help provide traction on slippery surfaces
- Salt, but can be less effective at temperatures below -12° C
- Anti-Icing Liquid can be used prior to a storm on a highway for certain conditions to help prevent snow and ice formation
- Pre-wetted salt which is a combination of salt and anti-icing solution together; which helps the salt stick to the highway surface and therefore be more effective.
The Ministry of Transportation will attempt to maintain a bare pavement standard, 90 percent of the time during the winter months. Be aware that road and maintenance vehicles will be active on roads 24/7 until bare pavement is reached.
We hope utilizing these tips will help make for better and safer driving with snow plows on the highways, and will help you take appropriate steps to prepare for winter road and weather conditions. You can also visit “Track My Plow” (https://511on.ca/) to get information on provincial highways and where snow plows are actively working. It can be a better idea at times to change your travel plans and wait until conditions improve and snow plows have had a chance to clear the roads.