CHEYENNE, Wyo. — So far this winter, state snowplows are being hit by other motorists at a rate of about one per storm, which is an improvement over last winter, Wyoming Department of Transportation officials say.
WYDOT spokesman Doug McGee said 23 snowplows were hit by other drivers during the winter of 2007-2008.
There’s been one fatal crash so far this year. The Wyoming Highway Patrol says 24-year-old John Alden of Wheatland was killed Sunday when a driver in front of him tried to pass a snowplow. The passing car collided with a truck, which then struck Alden’s vehicle.
Department Maintenance Supervisor Don Bridges says it’s dangerous to pass snowplows and drivers should wait to pass until the plows pull off to the side of the road.
“After a couple of times (being hit) or whatever, the plow drivers actually wind up looking out their mirror more than they do out the front to see who’s going to hit them,” Bridges said.
It can be dangerous for frustrated drivers to drive around snowplows, especially as passing opportunities can be few and far between thanks to Wyoming’s hilly and mountainous terrain.
Impatient drivers, Bridges said, should keep in mind that the snowplow in front of them will eventually turn off the road, even though it might seem like an eternity.
Under WYDOT policy, snowplow drivers who see traffic backing up behind them must pull over to let the trailing vehicles pass.
Plus, in normal conditions, each WYDOT snowplow is only responsible for clearing 20 miles of interstate highway, or 40 miles of state highway, at a time, Bridges said. And that’s only if they don’t run out of snow to plow before then, McGee said.
Another safety tip, Bridges suggested, is to turn off cruise control when nearing a snowplow or driving in wintry weather.
Kevin Jones of The Trucker staff can be reached for comment at firstname.lastname@example.org.