A Winter Reminder: Don’t Pass Snow Plows with Flashing Lights

YELLOW FLASHING LIGHTS on a plow truck means it's plowing or sanding-3

It’s early in the winter driving season, and we’re all getting used to the white stuff again, but we’ve had a couple incidents lately where travellers have tried to pass snow plows on the right hand side while the plows are actively working.

Don’t do this.

Not only is passing an active plow dangerous for you, it’s dangerous for the plow operators and drivers around you.

Coq Plow Off Road
Be patient. Snow plow operators will pull over and let you pass as soon as they can safely do so. Wondering how to tell if a plow is working? Look for the yellow flashing lights. If the plow has it’s lights on,  it’s hard at work plowing or sanding the road for you.

So hang back and sit tight. Following a plow during a winter storm event means the road ahead of you will be clear sailing. Any questions? Let us know in the comments below.

Page 1 of 25 comments on “A Winter Reminder: Don’t Pass Snow Plows with Flashing Lights”

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  1. I’ve never found myself behind a plow, but I didn’t know you weren’t supposed to pass them if they have their flashing lights on. It does make sense though, plus I wouldn’t want to get blasted by snow anyway. I didn’t know they will pull over to let you pass when they’re ready either. Thanks for the heads up!

  2. I fully understand the need to keep well back from a working plow. They have a tough job in trying conditions. But how about passing a plow on a straight section of highway travelling 15 km/hr below the posted limit, bare and dry roads, plow not plowing or sanding (no need for either), dotted line and no traffic coming? I’m sure there was a reason the plow was out but no obvious reason the lights were flashing. Was it just a coincidence that it was just when I was beside the plow that the operator turned on the left-mounted sander, pelting my car with rocks, and then turned it off as just as soon as I was past? This happened to me last winter on Hwy 3 between the Alberta border and Sparwood.

    • Hi Lou,

      Thanks for connecting with us. Unfortunately, we don’t know what happened in this instance. The plow operator could have been preparing to sand when you passed, turned on his machine and when he realized you were passing, turned the machine off?

  3. Makes sense, not passing on the right, but when a plow is SANDING, is it normal procedure to swerve and cut off a vehicle that attempts to pass the plow on a 2 lane highway? And then continue to swerve in and out of both lanes? This was my experience with the plowing contractor responsible for the area near Yahk on Hwy 3.

    • Hi Alex,

      Thanks for connecting with us and sharing your concern. We will share your comment forward with the local area manager for follow up. Passing a plow, even one that is sanding on a two lane highway, can be dangerous. When maintenance trucks are sanding their machinery is actively spinning and spraying. You could risk being struck by small pieces of aggregate which, if it hit your windshield and cracked it, could cause you to lose sight of the road. Our advice to you is to stay back and wait for the plow to pull over and allow you to pass.

  4. Sadly this is just not true when it comes to YRB in the Kootenays. In fact 2 weeks ago when we got our first snowfall, one (coming onto the highway from a side road)blew through a yield sign and came onto the highway going 30 km/hr right in front of me. I had to slow down from 70km/hr (the posted speed is 80km/hr) to 30 in less than a city block and almost got rear ended by the person behind me.

    • Hello again Michelle,
      We have shared your concern and wanted to let you know that you can also contact YRB directly at this number: 250.352.3242
      Hope that this helps.