Public Information Officer, James Piccola, offered Cindy a ride in a NYSDOT snowplow to show what a dangerous and tricky job it is. 

Talk about long shifts in the midst of snow or ice storms. These snow heroes work anywhere from 8 to 12-hour shifts keeping the roads as safe as possible. The average snowplow route is about 80 miles, and if there's snow on the roads the fastest they'll travel while plowing is 35 mph. That run will take about 4 hours to plow (at a maximum speed of 35 mph) and salt or sand. If they are not plowing, but sanding, salting or brining then they can travel at 40 mph. It depends on the weather conditions and temperature. If snowplow drivers go too fast, then the salt may not stick to the road to do its job.

Brandon Ward of the NYSDOT took Cindy out for a ride on Rt 8 to Rt 20 (Utica to Bridgewater) and back. He says it's dangerous when vehicles try to pass them during hazardous road conditions. Their job is to keep the roads as clear as possible, and snow plows are loaded with big, bulky equipment. It's tough to see what's going on around them let alone keep track of impatient vehicles that don't want to be stuck following them.

Drivers should say back at least 70 feet from a snow plow and do not attempt to get in between echelon plowing (staggered snow plows operating across all lanes of traffic). Never attempt to pass a plow, it not only put's you at risk but also the plow driver.

Jimmy Piccola
Jimmy Piccola

A few questions from our Facebook friends.

Karen: "Why do I see the blades down on a plow with no accumulation on rt 315?"
Brandon: "The roads may look bare, but there is probably ice on the road that they're scraping it up."

Peter: "After you plow do you salt or sand the intersections?"
Brandon: "Usually, when we're plowing the Salter is always on. We salt and plow at the same time."

Tips to follow when you come upon a snowplow:

  • Give snowplow trucks plenty of room to work. The truck's plow is wider than a traffic lane and can distribute salt across several lanes of traffic.
  • Don't tailgate a snowplow. The operators often have to stop, turn and back up if they're clearing an intersection. If you are following too closely, the snowplow driver may not be able to see you.
  • When you come up on a snowplow, slow down. The fastest it goes while plowing is about 35 mph.

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