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It's that time of the year again: Watch for snowplows

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It's that time of the year again: Watch for snowplows
Detroit Lakes Minnesota 511 Washington Avenue 56501

The Minnesota Department of Transportation's snowplow operators are trained, experienced and prepared to assist motorists through another winter season.

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"Our crews have the equipment and technology to do an excellent job of clearing Minnesota's roads," said MnDOT Commissioner Tom Sorel. "We need motorists to do their part to keep the roads safe this winter, by giving our plows room to work."

Last year in Minnesota, there were 72 crashes involving vehicles that hit snowplows. This is typically caused by inattentive drivers, motorists driving too close to the plow or motorists driving too fast for conditions.

Operators have much to monitor and control, and their ability to see behind them is limited by side mirrors. Their vision can also be hampered by the snow clouds they create while plowing.

"We all must get back into winter driving mode, which means increasing caution and patience while reducing distractions," Sorel urged. "To keep themselves safe and the highways open, motorists need to stay at least five car lengths away from snowplows and give the plows time to remove the snow."

Safe driving means:

• Check road conditions at www.511mn.org or call 511; it takes time to get roads back to good driving conditions.

• Be patient and remember snowplows are working to improve road conditions for your trip.

• Stay back at least five car lengths behind the plow, far from the snow cloud. Snowplow operators will pull over when it is safe to do so to allow traffic build-up to pass.

• Stay alert for snowplows that turn or exit frequently and often with little warning. They may also travel over centerlines or partially in traffic to further improve road conditions.

• Slow down to a safe speed for current conditions, and give yourself plenty of travel time. Snowplows typically move at slower speeds.

• Buckle up and ensure children are properly secured in the correct child restraint.

• Avoid unnecessary travel if road conditions are too poor.

Nov. 7-11 is Winter Hazard Awareness Week, and Friday, Nov. 11, focuses on safe winter driving. For additional safety tips, go to www.mndot.gov/workzone.

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