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WYDOT Warns Residents Of Safety Around Snow Plows

Wyoming Department of Transportation

The Wyoming Department of Transportation is reminding residents to use extra caution around snow plows on highways.

The reminder comes after a tractor trailer hit a snow plow truck on I-80 east of Rock Springs on Thursday morning. The accident caused both vehicles to go off the road and for the snow plow to flip onto its side.

The tractor trailer driver did not report any injuries, and the WYDOT snow plow driver went to Sweetwater Memorial Hospital with non-life threatening injuries, according to a WYDOT press release.

Also on Thursday, a semi truck on I-90 clipped a snow plow near Sheridan this week when a vehicle attempted to merge onto the highway, said Laura Dalles, public involvement specialist with WY-DOT District 4.

Last winter, there were around eight accidents like these. Dalles said the majority have to do with drivers going too fast for the conditions.

"Then next thing they know, they are approaching this big snow plow who is basically going about 35 mph and they are coming in at double that speed. And so they're hitting the brakes and there are slick road conditions or whatever it may be," she said.

Credit Wyoming Department of Transportation

Dalles said these accidents aren't just minor inconveniences for drivers and the department.

"That driver is out of commission for the day. The truck may or may not be out of commission for the day. That's one less driver, one less truck that's not out clearing the way for the public. It costs us to repair the truck. It's not just something that's an easy fix," she said.

Passing a snow plow may be difficult to do, as the plow can create its own whiteout conditions, according to WYDOT.

"If you see a snow plume, there's a reason there's a snow plume is because there is snow in front of the snow plow. If you can't see, don't pass. It's just common sense," Dalles said.

WYDOT recommends to be aware of road conditions, especially when there's a likelihood that plows are out. Drivers should slow down and leave a safe distance between them and a snow plow. That distance is double what it would be for a regular car. Plow trucks are also dropping sand and de-icing chemicals to make highways safer.

This story has been updated with the correct number of snow plow strikes last season. 

Have a question about this story? Contact the reporter, Catherine Wheeler, at cwheel11@uwyo.edu.

Catherine Wheeler comes to Wyoming from Kansas City, Missouri. She has worked at public media stations in Missouri and on the Vox podcast "Today, Explained." Catherine graduated from Fort Lewis College with a BA in English. She recently received her master in journalism from the University of Missouri. Catherine enjoys cooking, looming, reading and the outdoors.
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