Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) staff are out clearing roads in southwest Minnesota. Currently, roads are partially or completely covered, and snowplow operators report that it’s difficult to see vehicles that don’t have their headlights on, especially as a snowplow operator’s view can be hampered by the snow clouds created by plowing.

MnDOT advises motorists to turn on their headlights instead of depending on automatic settings, so that vehicles can be seen by snowplows and other motorists.

The average snow plow route in District 8 (southwest and west central Minnesota) is 60 miles, roundtrip. Some routes are considerably longer. In good conditions it can take two and one-half hours to plow a route.  In difficult conditions it can take up to four hours. Be aware that it takes time to get roads back to good driving conditions.

In general, plows are out from 3 a.m. to 10 p.m., or longer if conditions require it. Plow operators have much to monitor and control while on duty, and their ability to see behind them is limited.

In addition to turning on headlights, motorists should remember to:

• Check road conditions at www.511mn.org before traveling.

• Be patient, and remember snowplows are working to improve road conditions for your trip.

• Stay back at least 10 car lengths behind the plow, far from the snow cloud.

• Stay alert for snowplows that turn or exit frequently and often with little warning. Plows may also travel over centerlines or partially into traffic to further improve road conditions.

• Slow down to a safe speed for current conditions. Snowplows typically move at slower speeds.

 For additional tips on safe winter driving, go to www.mndot.gov.

Photo courtesy of the Internet Public Domain