SIOUX FALLS, SD (KELO) — It’s a phrase that South Dakota drivers are familiar with, but lately, some of them haven’t been heeding the winter warning of “don’t crowd the plow.” According to the Department of Public Safety, vehicles have crashed into at least five DOT plows in just the past two days. Four of the drivers were ticketed.
Getting hit by another vehicle is always in the back of the mind of DOT plow driver Curt Theisen. He says his closest call was getting side-swiped by a semi.
“The truck never stopped, he busted his mirror when he hit me and he kept right on driving, he never hit the brakes,” Theisen said.
Rear-end crashes are the most common because drivers often misjudge the speed of a plow, until it’s too late.
“We travel between 30-35 miles-an-hour with a normal plow so that’s typically what happens, they don’t realize how fast they’re coming up on that plow that’s removing snow,” South Dakota DOT Area Engineer Harry Johnston said.
The DOT has its own version of a blue light special this winter. They’ve installed flashing blue lights on the backs of some of their plows so they’re easier to see for the drivers behind them.
“The blue lights just change up what people are used to seeing and making the truck a little more visible to the public,” Johnston said.
“From what I can tell, the blue lights have really been working good for us, it seems to slow the traffic down a little bit, they think it’s a law enforcement vehicle so they kind of respect that blue light,” Theisen said.
The DOT says drivers tend to let their guard down around plows when the weather’s clear and the snow isn’t flying.
“Just back off a little bit and give us the room and everybody’s going to get where they need to go safely,” Theisen said.
Don’t be a snow plow tailgater. The Department of Public Safety says drivers need to stay at least 200 feet behind a plow. Drivers should also avoid passing, if possible, especially when the road ahead isn’t cleared.