They are the ones that make sure that our car-based lives can continue when the snow falls. They are the ones that work to keep our towns connected. They are Wyoming snowplows and thank goodness for the work they do when the white stuff is falling, blowing and drifting.

Every winter we hear reminders from Wyoming agencies like the Department of Transportation to not crowd the plows when they are working. We have to give them room to do what they gotta do for us. But, what if you need to pass a plow as you make your way along Interstate-80 or up Interstate-25? Is it legal to pass a plow in Wyoming?

There isn't a specific law that prohibits passing a snowplow in Wyoming. However, it's rarely a good idea. WYDOT says that driving near snowplows requires care and patience. Plows don't just push snow out of the way. They ofter spread sand and use salt brine to break up ice on the road. Drivers will want to give plows plenty of room to do their thing.

"Please drive on the areas where sand the chemicals are being applied. This driving behavior helps break up the snow and ice. Please understand what our guys are doing, and please, don't pass the plows," WYDOT District Maintenance Engineer Lyle Lamb said in 2018.

Additionally, there is often limited visibility on the road. Snowplow drivers can't see vehicles behind them if the vehicles are too close to the plows. As the saying goes, if you can't see the plow driver's mirrors, they can't see you.

Even with the amber, red and blue flashing lights mounted on top of the cab and on the back of the sanders, blowing snow may make the plows harder to see. So, it's again a safer idea to not crowd the plow.

"Remember, the safest driving surface is behind the plow. If you must pass, don't pass on the right into the plume of snow being moved," Lamb said. "Be sure on two-lane highways that you have plenty of time to pass. Keep a close watch, these huge plows often stir up their own whiteout conditions while doing their work."

Usually, even if you're in a hurry, it's not a good idea to pass a plow. Here are some things to remember if you have to drive in winter conditions.

  • Be patient and remember snowplows are working to improve road conditions for your trip.
  • Stay alert for snowplows, which turn or exit frequently and often with little warning.
  • Stay back at least 10 car lengths behind the plow. Don’t drive into a snow cloud.
  • Slow down to a safe speed for current conditions.
  • Turn on your headlights and wear your seat belt.
  • Turn off the cruise control.
  • Don’t drive distracted.
  • Check road conditions and the latest map at wyoroad.info.

SOURCE: Wyoming Department of Transportation

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