With weeks of winter still to come, motorists should remember that snowplows are built for power, not agility, so they need plenty of space to do their job.
“Most of the collisions between snowplows and other vehicles occur when the snowplow is rear-ended,” said Captain Gerald Voight of the Wisconsin State Patrol Northwest Region. “Snowplows may have to slow down or stop suddenly if they encounter an obstacle, like a stuck or stalled vehicle. When visibility is poor, you might not see the snowplow’s taillights until it’s too late. To avoid rear-end collisions, you have to slow down and stay back at least 200 feet from the rear of the snowplow.”
According to state law, it is illegal to “follow a snowplow closer than 200 feet upon any highway having a posted speed limit of more than 35 mph if the snowplow is engaged in highway winter maintenance snow and ice removal.”
A citation for violating this law costs $175.30, with three demerit points assessed on the driver’s license. A second or subsequent offense within a year costs $213.10, with an additional three demerit points.
Voight added, “If you approach an oncoming snowplow on a two-lane road, it’s wise to slow down and proceed with caution because the snow blowing from the plow may limit your visibility.”