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DOT Reminds Motorists to Stay Informed, Slow Down, Stay Safe
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For Immediate Release:  Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2011
Contact:  Kristi Sandal, Public Information Officer, 605-773-3265 

DOT Reminds Motorists to Stay Informed, Slow Down, Stay Safe 

PIERRE, S.D. - Winter weather is quickly approaching, and the South Dakota Department of Transportation (SDDOT) is reminding motorists to stay informed, slow down and drive safely.

Weather in South Dakota is anything but predictable, and a traveler’s first action should be to visit www.safetravelusa.com/sd or dial 511 for the most current road condition information. The new and improved website features a bolder display that can be zoomed to show all interstate, South Dakota and U.S. highways. Camera images have been enlarged and many icons added for users to customize the maps for individual needs. 

Another new feature uses geographic landmarks instead of highway mileposts as location references on SafeTravelUSA and on South Dakota’s phone-based 511 system. 

Being informed is the first step to staying safe when driving in inclement weather. State officials also want you to treat driving as your main priority. Slow down, do not use cruise control, refrain from using electronic devices that can be distracting, drive with your headlights on (not daytime running lights – manually turn them on), and pay attention to your surroundings, especially traffic around you. 

“Safety is the our No. 1 priority,” said state Transportation Secretary Darin Bergquist. “By providing travelers on South Dakota highways with the most up-to-date road and weather information, details on snowplowing activities and hours of operation, travelers can make informed decisions before hitting the road.” 

Familiar sights during snowstorms are bright yellow snowplows working to clear snow and ice from road surfaces. 

State Department of Transportation officials ask travelers to remember the following snowplow safety tips: 

  • Plows travel slowly – about 25-30 miles per hour or less. Most accidents involving snowplows are rear-end collisions because motorists misjudged distances to the plows and how quickly those gaps are closed.
  • Snowplows cause soft snow to swirl. It can become difficult or impossible to see the plow and the roadway, and for the plow driver to see you. Do not pass a plow in a snow cloud, be patient and wait for the plow driver to pull over and allow traffic to pass. If road conditions allow, the plow driver will pull over periodically to allow traffic to pass. 
  • Never pass a plow on the shoulder. Snowplows are equipped with wing plows – eight- to ten-foot extensions on the right, and sometimes on the left side of the trucks, that are used to clean the shoulders. Plows on divided highways and interstates could have right or left wings.
  • Plows aren’t just removing snow, they may also be spreading de-icer and salt on the road surface. Maintain a safe distance behind the snowplow to avoid being sprayed by the materials coming out of the back of the truck/sander.
  • Plows do not work during the overnight hours. With the exception of urban areas around Rapid City and Sioux Falls, crews will begin work at approximately 5 a.m., weather permitting, and continue until sometime in the early evening.  

“Motorists should use extreme caution in the vicinity of snowplows,” said Greg Fuller, SDDOT director of operations. “A combination of poor visibility, slippery road surfaces, and packed, drifted snow make driving enough of a challenge, much less meeting or passing snowplows.”

 

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