Room To Plow: Following too close to a truck creates an unnecessary hazard

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – As you get ready to head out the door this morning, know that road crews are out there trying to make sure the commute is safe.

That said, they could use your help.

The first thing to keep in mind is the drivers are operating a huge piece of equipment and doing so in the midst of challenging and changing visibility.

Whether it’s PennDOT or public works, trucks in all counties have their hands full and want room to work.

“Yeah, they’re behind the wheel of a very large truck, they are trying to manage all of their clearances, making sure they’re putting down the salt at the right levels,” said Ben Devore PennDOT District 11, Allegheny County Maintenance Manager. “The last thing they need is somebody riding their tail and not letting them be able to see what it is they’re putting down.”

Devore said following too closely can create a hazard.

“If they do have to slow down quickly because of [the] conditions, they don’t want to cause an accident,” he said.

“I mean you’re really putting yourself in danger like our operators are worrying about a lot of different things,” Devore said about passing trucks. “The last thing they need is another car trying to pass us on the left.”

Devore said don’t even consider passing a plow on the right simply because you’ll drive right into the snow spray and that is a recipe for a crash.

While it’s recommended to stay 500-1000 feet back from a truck, that’s hard to judge, so it’s said to stay back far enough so you can see the full salt spray hitting the pavement.

Obviously, the last thing you want to do to end the day is call your insurance agent because of a crash. So, when you see the salt spraying from the back of a truck, remember, it’s meant to improve your treading.

That said, it can blow out a passing car’s window in a heartbeat.

“An impatient driver is trying to pass us or you know cuts us off too closely like that can have a major impact on that operator, and definitely put the motorist in significant danger by doing that,” Devore said.

So again, Devore said it’s important to give trucks plenty of room, especially if that truck is carrying a plow.

“It’s a 12-foot plow, it’s out in front of that truck, and that in itself, navigating around all the obstacles that are on the roadway that are all covered with snow is very challenging,” he explained.

While PennDOT trucks will hit particular spots every two hours, Devore said that cycle time can increase with traffic, especially in places where there are known backups.

When it’s really coming down, Devore said additional trucks are called in “on high-priority routes to help cover so that it cuts down that cycle time to keep the conditions passable.”

The bottom line, give them room to work.

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