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Saskatchewan launches annual snowplow safety campaign

Jason Scott / File / Global News

With winter weather conditions descending upon Saskatchewan the province officially launched its annual snowplow safety campaign on Wednesday.

The campaign slogan encourages drivers to “be aware and pass with care.”

“You’re coming to visit me in my place of work. You’re only going to be with me for maybe a minute or two but it could be the most dangerous minute or two if you make a poor choice,” said Jarrod Klassen, who has been operating a snowplow for 11 years.

The ministry of highways operates more than 300 provincial snowplows across Saskatchewan, serving a highway network of about 26,000 kilometres.

Read more: Collision created backup of 200 vehicles and semis during snowstorm

Snow and ice removal equipment is mobilized before, during and after storms with equipment operators available 24 hours per day, seven days per week.

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“Public safety is a top priority, making sure everyone gets home safe at the end of the day including us,” Klassen said. “My job is to clear the roads to keep people safe and the public’s job is to drive with care so I can get home safely to my family.”

Patience is always important while driving but it becomes an even greater point of emphasis when approaching a plow in winter conditions.

According to Klassen most drivers, don’t adapt their commute time to change with the weather.

“In July it takes you 20 minutes to commute to your job. In January, when it’s icy and blowing and snowing, most people only allow 20 minutes to actually get to their job,” Klassen said.

“People operating snowplows are often out working in poor weather conditions to ensure safer travel for Saskatchewan drivers,” Highways Minister Fred Bradshaw said.

“Snowplow operators sometimes encounter others travelling in ways that make working conditions dangerous. Pass snowplows safely.”

Klassen says “storms effect different areas differently obviously but the mandate is always the same: get out and make the roads safe and stay safe doing that.”

Snowplows use blue and amber lights when plowing, salting or sanding to increase visibility, heighten awareness as well as increase safety for all operators and the public.

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Bradshaw said he knows all too well the dangers of passing a plow in blizzard-like conditions.

“We actually had a person back home (Carrot River, Sask.) who got killed trying to pass a plow one time in a head-on collision. When you get behind a plow the plows pull over every 10 to 15 kilometres,” Bradshaw said.

“So what you do is just sit back, and take it easy, wait until the plow pulls over or if they can hit a clear spot you can go out and pass them.”

Klassen personally recommends a few tips for successful winter travel.

Read more: Winter driving conditions take extra attention, SGI warns

“If you’re going to travel in the winter, pack extra clothing. You never know what’s going to happen. Top up your fuel tank, check the hotline, and allow 15 extra minutes for your commute so if you do end up behind a plow truck it isn’t going to add more stress to your day.”

“I just want to tell everybody: don’t take that chance and try and pass in that snow zone,” said Bradshaw.

The Ministry of Highways says you can keep roads safe this winter by:

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  • planning ahead using the Highway Hotline www.saskatchewan.ca/highwayhotline or calling 511;
  • slowing to 60 km/h when highway equipment or other emergency vehicles are stopped with warning lights in operation;
  • staying back and staying safe since snowplows can create mini-blizzards known as the “Snow Zone”;
  • allowing snowplows sufficient time and space since they will pull over about every 10 kilometres or when safe to do so;
  • driving according to weather and road conditions; and
  • passing only when safe to do so.

The latest available road condition information can be found at www.saskatchewan.ca/highwayhotline or by calling 511. Follow the Highway Hotline on Twitter @SKGovHwyHotline for alerts, while general information can be found on Facebook at www.facebook.com/SaskatchewanHighwayHotline.

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