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State Patrol reminds drivers snowplows need extra space

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With another winter travel season underway, the Wisconsin State Patrol reminds motorists to be extra cautious when driving near snowplows – and to consider staying off roadways when winter storms make travel treacherous.

Since 2008, there have been 3,459 snowplow-related crashes in Wisconsin resulting in 571 injuries and five fatalities, according to a Wisconsin Department of Transportation news release.

“Most collisions between snowplows and other vehicles occur when the snowplow is rear-ended, usually by a driver travelling too fast for conditions,” Wisconsin State Patrol Captain Adrian Logan of the Northcentral Region/Wausau Post said in the news release. “Snowplow operators may need to slow down or stop suddenly if they encounter a stranded vehicle or other obstacle. Visibility is poor during major winter storms and is another reason to simply stay off roadways until conditions improve.”

State law requires drivers to stay at least 200 feet behind a snowplow engaged in snow/ice removal on any highway with a posted speed limit of more than 35 mph. Violations can result in a $175 fine and assessment of three demerit points. Since 2008, there have been 3,459 snowplow-related crashes in Wisconsin resulting in 571 injuries and five fatalities.

The State Patrol offers these winter travel tips:

  • During severe winter storms, postpone your trip if possible. Stranded motorists and vehicles become hazards that interfere with snow removal efforts.

  • If you must travel: buckle up, turn on your low-beam headlights, slow down, allow extra time and following distance (at least 200 feet behind a working snowplow).

  • If you must pass, be careful. Snowplows often create a cloud of snow that can obscure vision. Road conditions in front of the plow are often worse.

  • Don’t be over-confident if you operate a four-wheel or all-wheel-drive vehicle. They still require a considerable distance to stop on slick roadways.

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