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Brown County Browser: Drive carefully around snowplows

Winter is here which means snowplows will be out plowing and sanding the roads during snow and ice events. These snowplows travel much slower than the speed limit to be the most effective in clearing roads. Recommendations for driving near a snowplow are:

STAY ALERT FOR SNOWPLOWS – Snowplows turn frequently with little warning. They also need to travel over the centerline to effectively clear the middle of the road.

REDUCE YOUR SPEED – Snowplows are traveling at a slower speed when plowing snow or sanding ice. If snowplows are out, conditions may warrant the traveling public to drive speeds slower than the speed limit.

KEEP A SAFE DISTANCE – Stay back at least 10 car lengths. The most common and severe type of crash between a snowplow and another vehicle is when the other vehicle “rear ends” the snowplow because the other driver does not realize how slow the snowplow is moving.

PASS WITH CAUTION – Never pass a snowplow unless you can clearly see the opposing traffic lane ahead. Don’t ever drive into a snow cloud.

SEAT BELTS AND LIGHTS – Turn on your headlights and buckle your seat belts.

CRUISE CONTROL – Turn off the cruise control.

DISTRACTIONS – Don’t drive distracted.

Brown County maintains 346 miles of highway with four motorgraders and 9 snowplow trucks. With the Highway Department budget and only one snowplowing crew it does not allow for 24 hour plowing or a bare pavement policy. With the number of miles per snowplow, an average storm normally takes 2-3 hours to plow every county road the first time. The snowplows start as early as 5:00 AM and work as long as 12 hours. This depends on the severity of the storm and weather conditions. If the wind is causing the snow to blow across the road, the snowplows don’t sand in the open areas. The salt/sand would cause the snow to stop and build up on the road causing a worse condition. Maintenance forces will plow and sand the roads when conditions allow removing snow and ice as quickly as they can with the personnel and equipment available. If windy conditions create a white out situation, the plows will be pulled until it is safe. KNUJ radio is notified when this occurs.

On another subject, crash data showed a high number of run off the road crashes in Brown County several years ago. At that time Brown County decided to begin installing rumbles along the edge of the road. Currently over half of our paved roads have edge rumbles. The rumbles are meant to alert drivers that they are nearing the edge of the road so they don’t drive off the road or over correct when they do go off the road and lose control of their vehicle. The noise created by the rumbles is a concern but edge rumbles are a proven strategy to reduce run off the road crashes.

If you have any comments or questions call us at 507-233-5700.

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