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Sharing the road with snow plows

November in South Dakota means snow is just around the corner. Snowy and icy roads require extra safety precautions, including reduced speed, caution on bridges and keeping a good distance from other vehicles.

Motorists not only need to adjust their driving behaviors according to weather conditions but also be mindful when sharing the road with snow plows.

Safety around the plow

We’ve all heard the catch phrase “don’t crowd the plow,” but what exactly does it mean? Snow plows provide an important public service when clearing and deicing the roadways and the South Dakota Department of Transportation asks that drivers exercise patience when sharing the road with plows.

The following are some important safety tips on how to drive safely around plows:

  • Slow down as soon as you see a snow plow as plows travel at speeds of less than 35 MPH.
  • Give snow plows plenty of space, a plow operator can’t see behind their large vehicle and might not know that you’re there if you are following too closely.
  • Use caution if you choose to pass a plow or other cars on the roadway.
  • Don’t attempt to flag down a snow plow, as operators will only pull out stranded vehicles if there is an immediate safety issue.


When are the plows out?

During a winter storm, snow plows are generally out on the roads from 5 a.m. to 7 p.m., provided road conditions are safe enough. They will plow snow from priority routes first before moving on to other roadways. Snow plow operators will continue to clear snow from highways and Interstates as needed and also perform routine maintenance on higher-traveled roadways in and around Rapid City and Sioux Falls.


It’s important to know that even if a snow plow is out, it doesn’t necessarily mean that a roadway is safe for travel. Use your best judgment and always err on the side of caution. If you must travel, drive according to the weather and road conditions and be prepared. It’s a good idea to have an emergency kit in your vehicle stocked with food, water, blankets, flares and other supplies.

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