Do not pass snowplows on the right.
That seemed to be the main message for the public from a presentation given by Justin Van Iterson, Argo operations manager to a winter awareness meeting with stakeholders held recently in Little Fort.
Not only is the practise illegal but it’s also dangerous, Van Iterson pointed out.
“Approximately 90 – 95 per cent of Argo’s plow trucks are outfitted with a wing,” he said. “This plow sticks out on the right side of the truck. It is marked with flashing lights and flags. However, in heavy snow conditions it can still be difficult to see.”
Last winter, VSA Highways Maintenance, which clears the roads in the Merritt area, had 11 plow trucks hit. Argo had one flipped a couple of years ago when it was hit by a commercial vehicle passing on the right. Lakes District Maintenance out of Valemount had one plow truck hit the season before last.
“Please be patient and allow plow trucks to pull over or reach an interchange,” Van Iterson asked.
Getting drivers to slow down and move over for vehicles with flashing lights while they are working or stopped on the shoulder of the road was another priority message.
It’s the law plus it’s common sense.
Emergency vehicles, tow trucks and maintenance crews all fall under these regulations, the Argo spokesperson said.
During the 10 year period from 2004 to 2013, 239 workers have been hit by motor vehicles while working beside or on the road. Of these, 15 have died.
Drivers face a $173 ticket plus three penalty points for failing to slow down and move over.
Harvey Nelson, Argo’s general manager, clarified that the company is under no legal obligation to turn off the plow truck’s spinners when meeting other vehicles.
Crews are encouraged to turn spinners down whenever possible when meeting other vehicles. However, Argo is also required to restore traction to the road. Not applying winter abrasive can create dangerous conditions for other drivers, he pointed out.
Argo hosts winter awareness meetings with stakeholders every fall to prepare for winter, and discuss any winter concerns so those involved can familiarize themselves with each other.
Those attending the Little Fort meeting included representatives from Clearwater RCMP, District of Clearwater, District of Barriere, Lakes District Maintenance, and contractors such as Clearwater Towing and On Call Towing.