CDOT Reminds Motorists: Do Not Crowd Snow Plow Trucks

January 26, 2018 - Statewide Safety - Attempting To Pass Can Be DANGEROUS

The driver of the grey vehicle above, is taking on a huge risk attempting to squeeze through the two snow plows as they work to clear the snow and ice off the highway. It is extremely dangerous for motorists to try and pass plows. The situation could result in white out conditions, encountering ridges of snow between lanes or getting trapped between the snow plow trucks.  

STATEWIDE — The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) reminds the traveling public that snow plows need space to work. Electronic message boards across the state are once again lighting up with these important messages: “NEVER PASS PLOWS ON THE RIGHT!” or “GIVE THEM ROOM TO GROOM!”  

CDOT encourages travelers to be aware of snow plow operations, as maintenance crews across the region actively working to maintain the roadways during and after snowstorms.    

“Every winter, we experience several passenger vehicles crashing into our plow trucks. In most every incident, they were attempting to pass our plows,” said Greg Stacy, superintendent for CDOT’s Maintenance Section 3, headquartered in Durango. “In order for our plows to remove snow efficiently and apply sand or deicing agents safely, a maximum speed of 35 miles per hour is required. This speed may seem slow to some drivers following a snow plow, but to attempt passing is very, very risky!”  

Stacy also said, “The best advice to avoid causing a crash is simple: DO NOT CROWD OUR PLOWS. When a plow is in a crash it can no longer maintain the roadways for everyone, because the equipment needs to be inspected and sometimes repaired.”

RULES TO ABIDE: When motorists come upon snow removal operations on the road and highway, CDOT officials recommend this guidance:

  1. Never pass on the right — Never a good idea! Many plows use a blade extension (wing plow) on the right hand side of the truck. The blade extends the plowing area towards the shoulder of the road, leaving no room to pass. Also, plows are designed to push all the snow, slush, rocks and other debris to the right of the truck. The flying debris will damage your vehicle and obstruct your view of the road.  

  2. Never pass during tandem/echelon plowing — Tandem/echelon plowing staggers multiple plows to cover all lanes and clear the entire roadway in one coordinated sweep. This is the safest and most efficient snow removal method to clear the entire roadway. It is extremely dangerous for motorists to try and pass plows in this formation because you could encounter white out conditions, ridges of snow between lanes or get trapped between the snow plow trucks.

  3. Never tailgate — Plows need to drop deicer and sand, so make sure you stay back at least three to four car lengths of space. If you’re too close, your visibility is reduced and deicer and sand could hit your car. You also never know when a plow might need to suddenly stop — make sure you have plenty of room to do the same.

ONLINE INFORMATION, TIPS & VIDEOS: David Vialpando, superintendent for CDOT’s Maintenance Section 7, headquartered in Alamosa added, “We believe it is extremely important to educate the public about snow plowing operations, the safety of our operators and the safety of the traveling public while driving near plows. We encourage everyone to visit our CDOT website to access a lot of helpful information.”

Several videos can be viewed at CDOT’s travel webpage:  Or you may view each video on CDOT’s YouTube channel  The media may also contact CDOT for radio public service announcements which run at 30sx.





STAY INFORMED: Road and weather conditions are available by dialing 511, 303-639-1111, or visiting Also available on the COtrip site are:

For other resources, the public can also access online: