The winter holiday season is upon us, meaning many people will be travelling throughout the province to visit friends and loved ones. With this in mind, Highways and Infrastructure Minister David Marit is kicking off the annual provincial Snow Zone campaign, aimed to remind travelers to slow down and stay back when approaching snowplows on provincial highways.
“It’s important, especially this time of year, that we remember to drive with care and caution when approaching snowplows,” Marit said. “Snowplows are there to help clear the path and make the road safer for us as travelers, so please show the operators respect by slowing down and staying back. They have families too.”
Snowplows create mini blizzards when plowing, called the Snow Zone, which can impact visibility. They also tend to travel at a lower rate of speed, so be sure to slow down and be patient. Snowplow operators pull over about every 10 kilometres or when safe to give drivers the opportunity to pass.
“Too often we see people travelling too fast for the road conditions and passing snowplows,” Marit said. “I remind travelers to be patient and caution them that it’s illegal to pass a snowplow at a speed greater than 60 km/hr when both the blue and amber lights are flashing, regardless of whether travelling on a two or four lane highway. Snowplow operators will pull over roughly every 10 km, or when it is safe to do so, to allow traffic to pass.”
Current legislation allows you to pass a snowplow when it is pulled over, but you must slow to 60 km/hr when passing, similar to other emergency vehicles. A new blue and amber lighting sequence was introduced in December of 2015 to distinguish snow removal equipment in operation from other vehicles also using amber lights.
In advance of a winter storm, crews are continuously monitoring road and weather conditions. When it is necessary, crews will apply anti-icing liquid, salt or sand to the highway surface.
Drivers can help keep roads safe this winter by:
- Driving according to weather and highway conditions;
- Slowing down when visibility and road conditions deteriorate;
- Planning routes in advance (use the Highway Hotline www.saskatchewan.ca/highwayhotline or call 511);
- Avoiding non-essential travel during winter snow storms; and
- Allowing snow plows sufficient time and space to do their job (do not pass working snow plows).
The latest available road condition information can be found at www.saskatchewan.ca/highwayhotline with links to interactive maps for desktop computers and mobile devices. Follow the Highway Hotline on Twitter @SKGovHwyHotline for alerts, while general information can be found on Facebook at www.facebook.com/SaskatchewanHighwayHotline.
Saskatchewan Ministry of Highways and Infrastructure – Released on December 21, 2017