An Alberta association that represents snow plow drivers has a warning for Albertans about the dangers of passing snowplows or following too close to winter maintenance equipment.
The warning comes just days after a driver was killed while passing a snowplow in central Alberta.
The deadly collision happened north of Bonnyville on Monday. RCMP said the driver was pronounced dead at the scene after colliding head-on with a pickup truck.
The CEO of the Alberta Roadbuilders and Heavy Construction Association (ARHCA) says drivers need to recognize the potentially devastating consequences of making the decision to pass or tailgate a snowplow.
“They put their own lives at risk and the safety of other drivers and snowplow operators,” Jim Rivait said. “Operating a snowplow under extreme weather conditions is very challenging even without the hazard from impatient drivers who gamble that nobody is coming the other way when they pull out to pass.”
In a Friday news release, the ARHCA outlined details they had obtained from their members on a number of collisions involving snowplows this winter, including one instance where a plow operator was allegedly forced off the road while trying to prevent a head-on crash with a driver who was passing the plow as it travelled uphill and around a blind corner.
Last weekend, the ARHCA said a pickup truck crashed into the back of a plow on Highway 16 near Entwistle, Alta., causing minor injuries to the plow driver.
In addition, the ARHCA alleges two snowplows were rear-ended and one side-swiped, all within a three-hour span on Monday.
Lastly, the ARHCA said a driver collided head-on with another vehicle on Wednesday, after allegedly attempting to pass a snowplow.
“Contractors report 23 collisions with plows in 2017,” the ARHCA said. “Operators will pull over to allow vehicles to pass every five to eight kilometres, but must first reach a safe location.”
“Plows must travel slower than regular highway traffic to properly blade snow or apply sand and salt – typically in the 50-70 km/h range – so drivers should slow down when they see a snowplow ahead to avoid rear-end collisions.”
The organization is asking drivers to slow down to give the province’s 620 highway plows safe room to work.
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