CDOT reminds motorists: Do not crowd snowplows


The driver of the grey vehicle, above, is taking on a huge risk attempting to squeeze through the two snowplows as they work to clear the snow and ice off the highway. It is extremely dangerous for motorists to try and pass plows. The situation could result in white out conditions, encountering ridges of snow between lanes or getting trapped between the snowplow trucks. 

Every winter, several passenger vehicles crash into snowplow trucks. In most every incident, drivers were attempting to pass the plows. As winter weather moves into much of the state beginning Sunday, the Colorado Department of Transportation urges drivers to leave plenty of room for snowplows and various snow removal equipment as they work to keep roads clear and the public safe during and after snowstorms.

Electronic message boards across the state are once again lighting up with these important messages: “NEVER PASS PLOWS ON THE RIGHT” or “GIVE THEM ROOM TO GROOM”.


When motorists come upon snow removal operations on the road and highway, CDOT officials recommend this guidance:

  • Never pass on the right — Passing a plow, especially on the right side, is never a good idea! Many plows use a blade extension (wing plow) on the right-hand side of the truck. The blade extends the plowing area towards the shoulder of the road, leaving no room to pass. Also, plows are designed to push all the snow, slush, rocks and other debris to the right of the truck. The flying debris will damage your vehicle and obstruct your view of the road. 
  • Never pass during tandem/echelon plowing — Tandem/echelon plowing staggers multiple plows to cover all lanes and clear the entire roadway in one coordinated sweep. This is the safest and most efficient snow removal method to clear the entire roadway. It is extremely dangerous for motorists to try and pass plows in this formation because you could encounter white out conditions, ridges of snow between lanes or get trapped between the snowplow trucks.
  • Never tailgate — Plows need to drop deicer and sand, so make sure you stay back at least three to four car lengths of space. If you’re too close, your visibility is reduced, and deicer and sand could hit your car. You also never know when a plow might need to suddenly stop — make sure you have plenty of room to do the same.

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