PIERRE, S.D. — The South Dakota Department of Transportation (SDDOT) is launching a pilot program designed to improve safety for motorists and snowplow operators, the agency announced Dec. 22. The pilot program will equip 25 trucks, spread across the state, with flashing blue lights.
“Snowplow drivers provide an essential service to our communities,” said Joel Jundt, the state’s interim transportation secretary. “The blue lights will add more visibility to our snowplow fleet to ensure they can continue to clear roads and keep drivers safe.”
According to a statement released by SDDOT, studies show that drivers have become desensitized to flashing amber lights. Blue lights have greater visibility in certain situations, and because blue lights have a higher frequency and shorter wavelength of light, they appear to be moving closer rather than farther away, allowing drivers to react more quickly.
The most common crash statistic for snowplows is being hit from behind. When a snowplow’s blades are down, the machinery travels at 25 mph or less. Motorists are asked to slow down and stay eight car lengths behind the plow — and to never pass one in a snow cloud.
“Keeping drivers, workers and emergency personnel safe is the department’s number one priority,” Jundt said. “We appreciate Gov. Kristi Noem and the state’s legislature for working with us and adding new safety provisions to strengthen the current law and keep us on the road.”
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