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Snow plow operators share how drivers can stay safe around them

Published: Feb. 17, 2021 at 5:15 PM CST
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HASTINGS, Neb. (KSNB) - With the extra snow this season, there have been a lot more plows on the roads. With drivers trying to get around them and not giving them enough space, it has led to some serious accidents.

Snow plow operators said people are less visible to them than they really realize when they are clearing away snow. The Adams County Roads Department shared a few tips that drivers should know to avoid any accidents.

“We understand people have their jobs to do too but we’re trying to make it as best as possible, fast as possible,” Plow Operator Tim Craig said. “Most of the time whenever there is a snow event we come out early it’s usually dark, you can’t see much.”

Just this month, two people passed away in an accident where a car trying to pass a plow hit another car head on. Many operators shared they have had close calls from people wanting to get around them.

“Besides the family being devastated of both parties, you also have to remember the person sitting in this vehicle is directly involved in that incident and the memories and the sounds and the visuals are going to stay with them for the rest of their life,” Adams County Emergency Manager Ron Pughes said.

Operators said people don’t realize how limited their vision is. The mirrors only show so much and when snow is flying it makes it even more difficult to see. They do what they can to move out of the way to let cars pass, but it is not recommended to go around even on a four lane road like Burlington Ave. They work long days when there is a big snow and feel they always have to be on alert.

“It’s usually a 10-12 hour day. We can’t usually go more than that,’ Craig said. “If we have to go more than that then another crew would sub in. It’s been a really busy year.”

In the city, operators face their own challenges of tighter roads and more traffic.

“It becomes very difficult to do your job while you’re constantly looking over your shoulder looking for vehicles coming towards you,” Hastings Street Superintendent Steve Kostner said. “I guess a lot of people that don’t need to be out driving want to drive around and that just makes our job a lot more difficult.”

The city and county want to keep future accidents from happening. They stress that the plows are doing their jobs to clear the roads and drivers should have patience. Mayor Corey Stutte took time to recognize the hard work the operators do.

“I think it’s important to point out the long hours that these folks are working and all the hard work that they do for our citizens to make sure that the streets are plowed, to make sure that these lanes are open so that if a first responder does need to get to someone’s house they are able to,” Stutte said.

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