Brown County Browser: Be careful around snow plows

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.

The Brown County Highway Department wants to remind everyone that it is unlawful to push snow on or next to a public highway or street. Minnesota law (Minnesota Statute 160.2715) prohibits the plowing, pushing, blowing, shoveling or otherwise placing snow onto public roads. This includes the ditch and all the right of way area along the roads. Violations are punishable as a misdemeanor, but civil penalties can also apply if the placement of snow in the right of way creates a hazard such as slippery areas, frozen ruts or bumps, drifting or sight obstructions that contribute to a crash. This includes small windrows of snow left on the road from pushing snow across the road. Civil liability can extend to both the property owner and the person who placed the snow.

Brown County maintains 346 miles of highway with four motorgraders and 9 snowplow trucks. With only one snowplowing crew it does not allow for 24 hour plowing or sanding. 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 a.m. and work as long as 12 hours. This depends on the severity of the storm and weather conditions. If windy conditions create an unsafe situation, the plows may be pulled until it is safe. KNUJ radio is notified when this occurs.