MnDOT testing out added light on snow plows to improve safety for drivers, operators

December 11, 2018 05:44 PM

A simple tool could help drivers during the winter time.

MnDOT is testing out lighted plow markers on some of their snow plows. They say it will help with visibility and will make it safer for everyone on the road.


Duane Klein works with MnDOT and has logged hundreds of hours of plow driving during his time. 

"You're 21-feet wide so it's a little intimidating at first," said Duane Klein, who works for MnDOT. "It's actually kind of fun, to move the snow around, something a little different."

To make the task a little bit easier, MnDOT created bright, orange LED rope lights to put on the wings of snow plows.

"It really allows you to see where the edge of the wing is, it's night and day," said Nate Smith, Heavy Equipment Mechanic with MnDOT. 

Smith is part of MnDOT's Metro Safety Innovation Team. They come up with all sorts of ideas that promote safety. 

"It's the freedom of taking an idea that might just seem really stupid like put a light on the edge of a wing and trying it to say yeah it works or no, if we never tried it you'd never see it," Smith said. 

When the plow blades are down, snow can fly all over the place, creating whiteout conditions. MnDOT says that can make the blades tough to see for anyone on the road.

"It's scary because a lot of times you can't see the front of your plow," Klein said. 

"It seems every year we have a semi hit a wing," Smith said. 

Just last season, MnDOT says there were eight incidents in the metro where a vehicle hit one of these plow blades on the road.

"I think you just forget that there's a big piece of metal here, you come up on them and they hit them and it's bad for our drivers, bad for the public-- it's dangerous," Smith said. 

Even through difficult conditions, the orange lights are visible helping the plow operator and other drivers get a better perspective on the road.

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"How this plastic tube diffuses the light makes it really visible in that snow cloud," Smith said. 

Right now, the lighted plow markers are on about a dozen trucks in Maple Grove. But if it's effective, MnDOT says they'll be on every truck in the state. 

"If it's a safety thing and it's 30 dollars and it can prevent someone from running into our truck. It's worth every penny," Smith said. 

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Brett Hoffland

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