Pennsylvania sees a lot of snow every year -- and every snow storm brings out the snowplows. For drivers who are already anxious about being on the road amid all that snow, seeing a snowplow up ahead can create even more anxiety.
Here are some tips about how to safely share the road with a snowplow and avoid an accident:
1. Give them room
You need to drive defensively when you see a snowplow. Realize that the people driving snowplows often have their attention diverted toward the job of removing snow from the road -- and that leaves them less able to look out for drivers. (That doesn't mean they're excused from liability, but it is a reality that you need to keep in mind for your own safety.)
2. Stay safely behind them
This is actually a two-part rule. First, you need to remember that you shouldn't try to pass a snowplow. Yes, they're slow. Yes, it's inconvenient to be stuck on the road behind a snowplow. It's a lot slower and more inconvenient to end up in a wreck, however, so be patient. When visibility is limited, you can hit the wing plows on the side of a snowplow very easily while trying to pass.
Second, you need to stay behind at a safe distance. Snowplows are apt to make sudden stops. They're dealing with terrible roads. They're driving a 30-ton vehicle. Stay twice as far back (at least) as you would a normal vehicle.
3. Slow down
If you see a snowplow out, it's automatically time to slow down and drive carefully. They wouldn't be out there on the roads if the roads weren't dangerous. You can do yourself a lot of favors just by giving yourself plenty of extra time to get to work or appointment or staying home until the roads are clear.
If you are in an accident with a snowplow, determining liability may be complicated. Even if you are clearly not at fault for the accident, the plow's operator may be working for a company as an employee, working as an independent contractor or working for the state or local government. Talk to a car accident attorney right away about the situation in order to best protect your rights.