SUMMIT COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) – A snowy March so far has kept the state’s fleet of snowplow drivers busy. And after an accident early on Monday in which a car crashed into a snowplow, plow drivers are reminding drivers to be extra careful when they are near.
It’s not just a constant battle with the weather for Colorado’s fleet of plows, but other drivers on the road are a constant concern.
“You’ve got people that are afraid to drive then you have people who are driving in excessive speeds, so you run the gauntlet of everything in between,” said Mark Gocha, Operations Supervisor with the Colorado Department of Transportation.
“When we’re in a snowplow everyone behind us wants to be in front of us until they get there and then they realize ‘Man, I want to be behind the snowplow,’ ” Gocha said.
Gocha wants drivers to know that the most dangerous 30 feet on the highway while the plow is at work is right next to a plow because the plow is scraping off snow, ice and sand with the blade, and traction is re-applied behind the plow.
“If (drivers) jump in front of us and hit the brakes we’re on the slickest part there is so we’re at the mercy of skilled driver so to speak,” Gocha said.
Plow drivers near the Eisenhower-Johnson Tunnel are told to keep their speed at 30 mph, less than half of what Interstate 70’s posted speed limit is. A lot of our accidents happen when drivers slam into the back of snowplows.
But when the snowplows head off the interstate and keep other highways clear, the major concern is traffic coming at them.
“Don’t get me wrong it’s a challenge out here every day. But your head on traffic, you very well better be aware of what’s going on. The plow drivers are at the mercy of the other driver, they really are,” Gocha said.
Officials want drivers to remember two important rules: Slow down and give snowplow drivers room to work.