Give snow plows plenty of space and respect, or else
Here’s the best tip we ever got from Joe the Snow Plow Driver: I drive a truck with a big can opener on it, and your car is the can.
But we’re sorry to say we won’t be regaling readers this winter with Joe’s amusing observations about the bad driving he witnessed while plowing snow from city streets.
For many years, Joe sent us tales from the front lines of plowing, describing driver madness and stupidity at the height of a storm. Like weaving in and out of a half-dozen vehicles that got stuck on a snow-covered hill.
Or watching an impatient driver pull alongside him and try to pass, only to spin out and careen into the path of an oncoming car.
He was one of our most faithful readers and correspondents, until he sent us a note in the fall of 2016, saying he was losing a battle with lung cancer. He passed away about a year ago.
His real name was Al Mosher, but he feared he’d be fired if the contractor he worked for found out he was talking to us. So we agreed at the start of our email friendship to call him Joe.
For every funny story, Al would offer a no less valuable tip on what drivers should and shouldn’t do when in close proximity to snow plows, or how to navigate a snow-covered road.
With lots more snow on the way before this miserable winter fades into the rear-view mirror, it’s an ideal time to revisit Al’s best advice, starting with that can opener.
Most people give little thought to the danger posed by the huge blade or blades on the front of a plow truck. A driver who manages to pass a plow could spin out and end up impaled by the blade.
Tip Number One: Be patient, no matter how much of a hurry you’re in, and stay behind the plow. It’ll be slow, but you’ll be driving on a freshly scraped road.
Also, “just stay the hell away from us! We’re helping you to get where you need to go, so stop treating us like the enemy and giving us the finger.”
Another good one: If drivers see an angled line of snowplows across all lanes, do not try to weave in and out of them. The blade makes it hard for plow drivers to see cars that are close, increasing chances something bad could happen.
“If you’re coming to a hill and see that cars are getting stuck, turn around, even if you have to do a U-turn. We can’t plow the hill if a lot of cars are stuck on it.”
And this: All-season tires are anything but. Only winter tires provide enough traction to safely drive in snow. Everyone should have them.
Here’s his Number One tip for non-drivers: If you shovel snow from your driveway onto the road, the next plow that comes along will only push it back into your windrow, where it’ll freeze and be twice as hard to shovel later on.
Thanks, Al. We miss you, but your advice lives on.
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