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img_1817MassDOT has announced its “Don’t Crowd the Plow” campaign highlighting the serious need for drivers to exercise caution and give extra space to snow fighting equipment.

Highway Administrator Thomas J. Tinlin was joined by Colonel Richard McKeon of the Massachusetts State Police and Director of Highway Safety for the Executive Office of Safety and Security Jeff Larason at a press conference today where they discussed this important issue and the recent increase in vehicles striking snowplows.

“Our first priority is safety and every year we stress that drivers should slow down, give snow fighting equipment extra space, and devote their full attention to driving,” said Transportation Secretary and CEO Stephanie Pollack. “Travelers should recognize that the road conditions behind a plow are far better than the conditions in front of it, and they should avoid speeding up and passing snowplows and creating an unsafe situation for everyone on the roadway.”

“So far this season, we have seen an increase in the number of snowplows and spreaders being struck by cars,” said Highway Administrator Tinlin. “This can be a dangerous situation that threatens the safety of motorists as well as our MassDOT crews and contractors who are working hard to clear and treat the roadways to ensure safe travel.”

“The law requires you to drive at a speed that is reasonable given the conditions around you, and state troopers have discretion to determine if you are going at a speed greater than reasonable given the weather and other conditions,” said Colonel McKeon. “But don’t just slow down to avoid a ticket. Slow down to protect yourself, your passengers, and other motorists around you.”

“When road conditions are poor, and when plows are working, it is especially important that drivers pay attention,” said Director Larason. “Snow plows have a job to do and they need room to do it. Put the phone down, slow down, wear your seat belt and be patient.”

In the first four snow events this year alone, 8 snowplows were struck by other vehicles. A fully loaded snowplow weighs roughly 20 times more than the average passenger vehicle, which can lead to a dangerous situation for drivers that are following too closely behind a snow plow or are distracted and not devoting their full attention to the roadway.

MassDOT will be displaying informational messages as part of its “Don’t Crowd the Plow” campaign on 80 of its VMS messaging boards along highways throughout the state. A graphic of this message will also be displayed on over 60 billboards across the Commonwealth (please see picture below).

Drivers are also encouraged to lower their speeds during inclement weather and use the appropriate resources to make an informed decision regarding their travel plans. MassDOT strongly urges drivers to always wear their seatbelts, minimize distractions, turn off or put away cellphones and devote their full attention to what is ahead on the road.

For updates on road and traffic conditions drivers can check MassDOT’s Real-Time Traffic Information Map online; Dial 511 and select a route to hear real-time conditions on I-90 and other roads; and visit www.mass511.com, a website which provides real-time traffic and incident advisory information, and allows users to subscribe to text and email alerts for traffic conditions.

Other important winter driving tips include:

Clear snow and ice from all windows and lights – even the hood and roof- before driving.
Leave plenty of room for stopping.
Remember the posted speed limits are for dry pavement.
Use brakes carefully. Brake early. Brake correctly. It takes more time and distance to stop in adverse conditions.
Bridge decks freeze first. Due to the difference in the exposure to air, the surface condition can be worse on a bridge than on the approach road.
Exit ramps are an even greater challenge during the winter since they may have received less anti-icing material than the main line.
Most importantly please remember to slow down. Also, seat belts should be worn at all times – it’s the law.

Check more information on safe winter driving.

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