Trucker 500 Dcow Sno 5

Dash Cam of the Week: Sno-plosion and other winter hazards

Feb. 19, 2016
While the West has endured record heat and spring is working it's way across the South, there's still a winter weather window for much of the U.S. So our Dash Cams of the Week feature several poor decisions related to icy road conditions from which lessons should be drawn.

While the West has endured record heat and spring is working it's way across the South, there's still a winter weather window for much of the U.S. So our Dash Cams of the Week feature several poor decisions related to icy road conditions from which lessons should be drawn.

First up: Four-wheeled reckless driving on the highways around heavy trucks happens all the time — just not usually weaving around and cutting off plow trucks in a snowstorm. But that's what a Colorado Dept. of Transportation (DOT) dash cam captured as DOT vehicles were trying to clear the roads last week.

"This could have ended very badly," the DOT wrote in posting the video to its Facebook page. "Today, this driver put himself and our plow drivers at risk — and obviously never heard our plea to 'bow to the plow.' Law enforcement would have likely cited him for numerous offenses. Please be patient as we work to clear the roads from this latest storm."

It seems the driver also doesn't have the good sense to realize that the safest place to drive in a snowstorm is behind the plow truck. Interestingly, the video posting garnered a lot of comments and spurred a discussion of whether the plow trucks shouldn't be traveling in such a tight formation on the road, as can be seen in the footage.

In response, the department noted there are "multiple reasons" its snow plow crews synch it up and move together.

"Here are a few to think about. It reduces distractions of small vehicles weaving through the trucks; each [plow truck] driver is juggling plow controls, product controls, radio transmissions, multiple blind spots and watching each other's progress," the department wrote. "There are so many blind spots with plow attachments, snow buildup on the windows and adverse weather conditions."

Also, when the plows go through, it creates "a mound of snow and can cause traction problems when vehicles try to pass through it," the department added.

In short, it's dangerous — and the plows move together because they don't want passenger cars trying to cut through past them. "We are not trying to make it hard on the public. Our mission is the exact opposite: Keeping everyone behind [our trucks] controls the situational awareness of each driver," the DOT stated in its posting.

Lesson No. 2

The Montana Highway Patrol posted this terrifying video late last fall to remind drivers of the dangers of winter road conditions.

""We have made the decision to release the following video in the hopes that it will encourage all drivers to exercise caution and lower their speeds especially during inclement weather," MHP says in the YouTube explanation.

And it's hard to watch.

The video features dash-cam footage showing a series of crashes that occurred during a blizzard on December 28th, 2014 near Missoula.

"Send medical quick!" the responding officer radios as the accidents come one after another and rushes to check on victims.  Thankfully, everyone survived. The mother and her two children are on the road to recovery, according to the MSP post.

Black ice jackknife

Here a tanker driver likely got the sinking feeling as he crested a hill to discover traffic stopped at the bottom because of the black ice that he'd just driven onto. And this was one, long slow-motion, nothing-to-do-about-it skid.

This happened last month between Elko and Carlin, NV, on Interstate 80. The video is from a man who tried to record as he ran along the shoulder warnong oncoming vehicles about the problem ahead.


Finally, for a reminder that's rather serious but not quite so terrifying, we present this archive clip to remind truckers that they shouldn't get on the highway if they have an iceberg on the roof of their trailer.

About the Author

Aaron Marsh

Before computerization had fully taken hold and automotive work took someone who speaks engine, Aaron grew up in Upstate New York taking cars apart and fixing and rewiring them, keeping more than a few great jalopies (classics) on the road that probably didn't deserve to be. He spent a decade inside the Beltway covering Congress and the intricacies of the health care system before a stint in local New England news, picking up awards for both pen and camera.

He wrote about you-name-it, from transportation and law and the courts to events of all kinds and telecommunications, and landed in trucking when he joined FleetOwner in July 2015. Long an editorial leader, he was a keeper of knowledge at FleetOwner ready to dive in on the technical and the topical inside and all-around trucking—and still turned a wrench or two. Or three. 

Aaron previously wrote for FleetOwner. 

About the Author

Kevin Jones | Editor

Kevin has served as editor-in-chief of Trailer/Body Builders magazine since 2017—just the third editor in the magazine’s 60 years. He is also editorial director for Endeavor Business Media’s Commercial Vehicle group, which includes FleetOwner, Bulk Transporter, Refrigerated Transporter, American Trucker, and Fleet Maintenance magazines and websites.

Working from Little Rock, Kevin has covered trucking and manufacturing for 15 years. His writing and commentary about the trucking industry and, previously, business and government, has been recognized with numerous state, regional, and national journalism awards.

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