Winter is almost here, and state transportation officials have a new weapon in the battle against snow and ice. New, 30-foot long tow plows can clear two, 12-foot wide highway lanes at once. “We plow it with the operator driving the truck into the passing lane, then checking for traffic and pulling a lever to steer the tow plow into the other lane,” says PennDOT Secretary Barry Schoch.
The tow plows have been tested at 55 – 60-miles an hour and will only be used on multi-lane expressways. They can also help to reduce costs at PennDOT. “With one vehicle we can now do what two trucks were doing, which means that one of the other trucks can go out to one of the other roads and get it cleared more quickly,” Schoch explains. 12 tow plows will be in use statewide this winter; PennDOT will deploy eight of them and the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission will have four of its own.
About 40-times a year motorists will crash into one of PennDOT’s plows, and officials are using this opportunity to stress winter driving safety too. They say to keep at least six car lengths behind an operating snow plow and to never pass one. Failure to heed these warnings can get you caught in a truck’s blind spot, pummel your car with heavy flying snow or lead to an unwanted encounter with the plow itself, which is wider than the truck.