EL PASO COUNTY — There is reason for Southern Colorado drivers to assess their driving habits around snowplows. Three El Paso County snowplows have been hit this plowing season. During a single snowstorm the first week of February the Colorado Department of Transportation had three plows hit in the southeast Colorado region during a snow event.
The goal of crews is clearing roads and keeping drivers safely moving. “Cars really need to stay back of the plows as much as they can,” said El Paso County Public Works, Highway Manager Troy Wiitala. Efficiency and safety are impacted by other drivers.
Slick roads, the width of a plow, and visibility are dangerous variables. The risk increases when other vehicles get too close. "While we're plowing the blade kicks up a lot of snow and as you get closer to the plow it effects visibility," said Wiitala. It is why the advice is to keep your distance and do not pass plows.
Getting close also increases the odds of damage without a collision. "We're dropping salt, sand, so it's not going to just stick to the roads. It could bounce up,” said Wiitala, “We've taken out some windshields this season."
When one driver takes chances and ends up colliding with a plow, it impacts more than the individual. "It delays our operations for hours maybe even days." A crash with a plow takes it out of service and delays clearing roads for thousands.