ADOT: Impatient drivers caused snowplow crashes last month

A snowplow lays on its side after a crash last month.

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A snowplow lays on its side after a crash last month.

KINGMAN – Drivers aren’t allowing enough room when they’re behind snowplows, resulting in damage to two Arizona Department of Transportation snowplows during January’s storms.

We don’t see many snowplows in the Kingman area, but we can certainly find them on Interstate 40 east of the city.

Three ADOT workers avoided serious injury when vehicles struck two snowplows in separate crashes. The drivers of the vehicles also came out fine.

One of the plows was severely damaged when it was rear-ended by a semi on Interstate 40 near Seligman.

In addition to sending two ADOT employees to the hospital with minor injuries, the crash hindered efforts to clear snow and ice from the highway.

The other crash occurred on State Route 89A between Prescott Valley and Jerome, with an SUV sustaining serious damage.

“During storms, drivers need to slow down and give plows plenty of space,” said Alvin Stump, ADOT’s Northwest District engineer. “Plows require a large work area to remove snow.”

It isn’t easy operating a snowplow on slippery roads with limited visibility and drivers make that job more dangerous when they don’t give the operators enough room to work.

Stay at least four car lengths behind the plow and never pass a working plow until the operator pulls over to let traffic by.

Gabreil Alvarado, who has plowed I-40 for 13 years out of ADOT’s office in Seligman, said he likes to see a line of vehicles making the smart decision to follow his snowplow.

“It’s the best possible scenario to have a plow right in front of you,” he said.

There’s always a vehicle or semi that makes the ill-advised decision to pass Alvarado in an unplowed lane, raising the potential for collision.

“Sometimes it gets really, really close,” Alvarado said.

It’s not uncommon for him to come upon those vehicles that have passed him stuck in the snow after sliding off the roadway.

Follow these tips:

• Never assume a snowplow operator knows you are nearby. If you can’t see the driver, there’s a good chance he can’t see you.

• Stay back. Plowed snow can create a cloud that reduces visibility, and spreaders throw de-icing materials that can damage your car.

• Leave space when stopping behind the plow. The driver may need to back up.

• When approaching a plow, slow down and give it extra room.

• Just because a plow has been through the area, drivers shouldn’t assume the roadway is completely clear of ice and snow.