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Snowplow Safety

Snowplow on Elliot Highway photo
Snow plow at MP 117 on the Elliott Highway, heading towards North Hill.
Photo by Peter Moore, Alaska DOT&PF

Winter is upon Alaska, and DOT&PF wants to partner with the public to provide a safe, passable road system throughout the state. Our snowplow operators work hard to make the roads you travel on as safe as possible. The equipment we use to maintain roads in the winter is very large, and we remind drivers to give our operators room to maneuver; always keep a safe distance when nearing a snowplow. Staying back allows them to do their job. Our mission is to get you to and from your destinations safely, so please be aware of your surroundings and “don’t crowd the plow.

Here are some some tips, videos, and a coloring page for kids. We want everyone learn more about snowplow safety!


Do's and Don'ts on Snowy Roads


...turn on your head and tail lights during heavy snow or rain, even during the day.

...use winter-rated snow tires. for the flashing amber lights. It can be difficult to see snow removal equipment.

...give snow plows plenty of space – about 10 car lengths. Salt and winter abrasives, as well as rocks and other debris in the snow, can fly – hitting nearby vehicles and decreasing visibility.

...remember the road surface ahead of the plow hasn’t been plowed yet, so please slow down and be patient. The operator will eventually pull over when it is safe to do so to allow motorists to pass. Take your time, wait and be safe.

...pull as far over to the right as is safe when you see a snowplow approaching from the opposite direction along an undivided highway. That way, you will be clear of any salt or winter abrasives.

...give the snowplow operator a wave when they pull over to let you pass. They’re doing the job for you!


...assume the snowplow operator can see you, especially if you’re driving too close and visibility is poor. Your best defense is to keep your distance.

...pass a snowplow. It’s not safe. Snowplows must travel slower than regular traffic when pushing snow and spreading salt and winter abrasives.

When drivers attempt to pass a plow truck, they put themselves, their passengers, the snowplow operator and other motorists at risk.

The plow could be equipped with a wing blade on its left or right side, which can be obstructed by the snow it’s throwing. The plow also may be the first of a series of two to four more plows, staggered diagonally across the road to clear all lanes simultaneously. This would require the unwise driver to make multiple unsafe passes.

...tailgate. Tailgating any vehicle puts you at risk of a collision; tailgating a piece of heavy equipment armed with plows only increases the consequences.

Towplow photo
DOT&PF's tow plow for Anchorage and Interior Alaska.
Photo by Betsy Hess, Alaska DOT&PF


Snowplow Videos


Coloring Fun!

line image of a snowplow for coloring in

Download, print and color this happy snowplow!



Snowplow on Richardson Highway photo
Operator Tony Knutson plowing shoulders on Richardson Highway
near Ernestine camp.
Photo by Troy Dolge, Alaska DOT&PF