Snowplow safety should be top of mind whenever you encounter one of these vehicles on the road this winter. You might not associate snowplows with danger, but driving near one can be as risky as being near a concrete truck, a dump truck, a tow truck, or any other huge vehicle. Snowplows do an incredibly important job, of course. But when they cause an accident with a passenger car, the occupants of that car could suffer severe injuries.
If you’ve been involved in an accident with a snowplow, an attorney with Penn Kestner & McEwen is ready to help. We’ll get to the bottom of why this accident occurred and work to get you the money you deserve. Use our online form or call (800) 732-3070 for a free consultation.
Do Snowplows Cause Accidents?
Without a doubt. As you’ll see in the next section, an accident caused by a snowplow can affect dozens of passenger cars – even if they don’t hit any of them directly. They’re already operating in very hazardous weather. When a mistake is made, the consequences can be horrible. Hundreds of these accidents happen across the country every year and cause severe injuries as well as fatalities – not to mention highways being shut down for hours.
Examples of Snowplow Accidents
The range of outcomes in a snowplow accident can range from minor property damage to debilitating injuries and worse. In 2015, USA Today did a study of snowplow accidents in Iowa. The publication’s researchers found that there had been 415 snowplow accidents over the previous five years. Governments in 12 cities and counties located in central Iowa had to pay at least $1.6 million. This money went toward paying for not only the injuries motorists suffered but also vehicle repairs.
As stated earlier, snowplows don’t even have to make contact with passenger vehicles to cause a great deal of damage. On January 23, 2022, a snowplow operator working on the Ohio Turnpike created so much snow and slush that several vehicles had to swerve suddenly. The operator was throwing snow and ice onto oncoming vehicles. According to a news report, at least 40 vehicles were involved in the resulting accident, and at least 12 people were hurt.
Oncoming Plows vs. Plows Behind or Ahead
So, is it safer to be in the path of an oncoming snowplow or behind or ahead of the vehicle?
It turns out there’s really no great answer.
If you’re facing the plow, as you saw in the previous example, you could be blinded by the snow and ice that comes up from the blade. If you’re ahead of the plow and moving in the same direction, the road is obviously dangerous. After all, that’s the main reason the snowplow is behind you in the first place.
If you have to be on the same street or highway as a snowplow, being behind the plow – well behind the plow, is probably the best option. You’ll learn more about this in the snowplow safety tips section.
Reasons a Snowplow Might be At-Fault for an Accident
There are many culprits behind a snowplow accident, just like there are lots of causes for other types of accidents involving massive vehicles.
A snowplow driver can make mistakes, just like any other driver. They could be operating the plow while extremely fatigued since they’re under a lot of pressure, and they often work very long shifts in most instances. If they’re bored (after all, this is pretty monotonous work), they could lose their focus by checking their phone for texts or emails.
There are some instances, however, where the driver might not have anything to do with an accident. The company that owns the plow could have ignored critically important maintenance, and an important component failed as a result.
This is one of the biggest reasons why you’re going to need to hire an attorney as soon as possible if you’ve been injured in an accident with a snowplow. Your attorney can conduct an investigation to determine why it happened and who’s to blame.
How to Drive Safely Around a Snowplow
If you can’t avoid the uncomfortable situation of having to share the road with a snowplow, always keep these snowplow safety tips in mind.
Leave Plenty of Space
When a snowplow is on the same highway as you, that obviously means conditions are already treacherous. The road will be dangerous enough without you trying to get around the plow just because you’re in a hurry. Just like you would with an 18-wheeler, leave plenty of room between you and the vehicle.
A snowplow can take up multiple lanes, so slow down and take extra care if you’re coming upon a plow and you’re on a two-lane road. If you’re behind the plow, leave enough space so the plow can turn safely.
It really doesn’t matter where you have to go or what you have to do. Trying to pass a snowplow is far too dangerous. Yes, it’s going to be frustrating since the plow moves so slowly. But the alternative will be even worse. If possible, simply get off the road and use another route to get to your destination.
Be Aware of Blind Spots
Like any other huge vehicle, a snowplow has a huge blind spot. If you can’t see the driver’s face in their side-view mirror, it’s almost a certainty that they can’t see you.
Steps to Take if You’re Hit by a Snowplow
If you are in an accident with a snowplow, try to stay as calm as possible. The first thing you need to do is to call 911 to get medical help and to have an officer dispatched to the scene. If you’re able to do the following – in the safest manner possible – this could help produce evidence that proves vital to your case.
- Take pictures of the snowplow, making sure to get photos of any markings that identify the plow as a private vehicle or one operated by a governmental entity.
- Take photos of all property damage as well.
- If there are witnesses, get their contact information.
- Even if you think you feel fine, get in the ambulance and go to the emergency room so you can be thoroughly checked out.
- Call an attorney as soon as you’re in a safe location so they can start an investigation.
Contact Penn Kestner and McEwen to Schedule a Free Case Evaluation
The attorneys with Penn Kestner & McEwen are ready to assist if you’ve suffered an injury in a snowplow accident that wasn’t your fault. We’ll put our experience and expertise to work on your behalf so you can realize the most positive result possible. Call (800) 732-3070 or use our online contact form for a free case evaluation.