With snow already falling across the state and more on the horizon, New York State Department of Transportation Acting Commissioner Paul A. Karas and New York State Thruway Authority Acting Executive Director Matthew Driscoll reminded motorists on Wednesday: ‘Don’t Crowd the Plow.’ When clearing roads, plow trucks travel at about 35 MPH, usually below the posted speed limit.

Department of Transportation Acting Commissioner Paul A. Karas said, “Snow plows are huge, heavy vehicles with wide blind spots, making it imperative that motorists ‘Don’t Crowd the Plow’ by giving them space and not darting around or in front of them.  Our practices are not intended to slow motorists down, but to maximize safety.  We ask motorists to drive with patience and an abundance of caution during winter weather events.”

Passing snow plows or taking U-turns in front of them can be dangerous for many reasons. A fully loaded plow truck can weigh more than 10 tons and has many blind spots. They cannot maneuver easily or stop quickly. Plowing can create a cloud of snow around the truck that causes limited visibility and whiteout conditions for passing motorists, and also creates a ridge of snow between lanes that makes passing inadvisable. Motorists should stay several car lengths behind plow trucks.

Some of the most important tips for safe winter driving include:

  • Never follow a snowplow too closely or attempt to pass one. Drive well behind a snow plow where the road has been freshly cleared;
  • Adjust speed for road conditions and schedule extra time for winter travel;
  • Assume that bridge surfaces are slippery, as they freeze more quickly than road surfaces;
  • Have a cell phone handy but do not text while driving; texting while driving is illegal and becomes even more dangerous during storm events;
  • Equip your car with emergency supplies, including sand, shovel, flares, jumper cables, rope, ice scraper, portable radio, flashlight, blankets and extra warm clothes;
  • Inform a responsible person of your destination, intended route, and estimated time of arrival.