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On The Road

Snow Plow Safety Tips

These quick tips will help you and snow plow operators stay safe on snowy winter roads.

by Team Onlia

We here at Onlia love a good snow sprinkling — it’s insulating, beautiful on our city streets, and provides fun opportunities for impromptu snowball fights. That being said, along with all the things we love about snow, there are of course a few things about it that make life a little harder. For one, snow makes it much more difficult to get around, causing accidents, delays, and safety concerns. Thankfully, snow plows are always there to have our backs – working tirelessly on days of heavy snowfall to safely clear and salt our streets.

Fun fact: Did you know that there are more than 1,100 pieces of winter maintenance equipment on Ontario provincial highways to help fight winter storms? Impressive, right? In an effort to make life a little easier for our snow plow friends, we wanted to share a few safety tips to help everyone feel comfortable and confident when sharing the road.

Grant some space

We’ve all been there. You’re driving down a highway, and suddenly approach a wall of snowplows, dominating all lanes. This strategy, known as echelon plowing is the practice of staggered snow plows travelling in the same direction across all lanes of a highway. This is widely regarded as the most safe and efficient method of snow removal for multi-lane roadways, as it ensures all lanes are cleared simultaneously by passing snow from one plow to the next. Makes sense! Hang back a bit and let the plows do their work. Some extra space will ensure your car stays clear of any possible snow, salt or debris being cleared from the road.

Patience is a virtue

For plow operations to be most effective, salt and sand spreaders must be dispersed at speeds considerably slower than most speed limits. Unfortunately for us drivers, this is a pro/con scenario. Pro — you are guaranteed a clear roadway ahead. Con — it may feel like it’s taking forever. Regardless, it is extremely dangerous to pass a snow plow due to the snow travelling between plows, and possible white out conditions. Embrace your pace, and dedicate this time to focusing on careful and controlled driving.

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Find your plow

Not to be creepy or anything, but we can tell you exactly where every provincial snow plow in Ontario is right now. We wish we could take credit for being psychics, but this information comes courtesy of Ontario 511, via their TrackMyPlow service. This fantastic interactive map shows location information for all winter vehicle maintenance vehicles on Ontario provincial highways within the past two hours. Isn’t technology just the best? Hop on TrackMyPlow before you hit the roads to ensure your route is clear and safe.

When in doubt, stay home

Lucky for us, Ontario’s snow and ice control standards are among some of the best in North America. Even with best efforts, during severe or prolonged storms, it may take some time for streets to return to an adequate level of safety. Road type and traffic volumes are considered in prioritizing service efforts, with priority given to main highways — with a standard of eight hours for the most populated routes. If you can wait to travel, it’s recommended to wait it out to ensure roads are cleared and salted.

Next time you see a snow plow on the roads, give a silent little “Thank you!” for all their hard work in keeping our streets safe this winter, and use these safety tips to help show your appreciation. 

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