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Snow plows and red lights

By SGT. ANDY SCHMIDT Minnesota State Patrol Question: Is it legal for snowplows and like equipment to just go through red lights and stop signs if the intersection is clear and no one is coming? Answer: Trooper Andy is going on the assumption tha...

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By SGT. ANDY SCHMIDT

Minnesota State Patrol

Question: Is it legal for snowplows and like equipment to just go through red lights and stop signs if the intersection is clear and no one is coming?

Answer: Trooper Andy is going on the assumption that you are referring to this equipment when in the act of removing snow from the road. Also I am not talking about someone with a plow on the front of their pickup clearing private driveways or parking lots.

According to Minnesota statute 169.03 sb 6 (a) the provisions of the traffic law chapter (169) shall not apply to persons, motor vehicles, and other equipment while actually engaged in work upon the highway, except as provided in paragraphs (b) and (c).

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Now basically paragraph (b) states that the laws do apply when traveling to or from such work, however the vehicles shall be exempt from the width, height and length provisions of 169.80 and 169.81, and shall be exempt from the weight limitations while engaged in snow or ice removal and while engaged in flood control operations on behalf of the state or a local governmental unit.

Paragraph (c) states that the DWI laws and School Bus operations laws do apply to while actually engaged in work upon a highway.

Basically the answer to your question is "yes." Now, I find no provision in statute that gives this equipment any special right of way, such as for fire trucks, ambulances and squad cars.

In other words I find nothing that says drivers must yield to snowplows that are approaching a light or stop sign at an intersection. This also means that drivers of snowplows have no legal reason to believe that anyone will yield to them at an intersection.

But if the intersection is clear of traffic and there are no vehicles around then the snowplow can proceed without stopping.

I am also not aware of any immunity from liability for any crash that may result from driving against a red light. As I see this issue (granted I have glasses with tri-focal lenses) the owner of the snowplow, be it the state, county or city, will probably be found liable and end up paying the bucks if a crash does occur. A very good practice is to drive defensively, with courtesy and carefully.

Remember to wear your seat belt, drive sober and pay attention. Also keep items away from those air bags to give them room to deploy.

If you have any questions concerning traffic related laws in Minnesota send them to Sgt. Andy Schmidt, Minnesota State Patrol, 1000 Highway 10 West, Detroit Lakes, 56501, or e-mail at andrew.schmidt@state.mn.us .

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