Godfrey, Leibsle, Blackbourn & Howarth, S.C.
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Elkhorn, WI

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Giving snowplows plenty of room isn’t just prudent – it’s the law

As Wisconsinites, we’re grateful to see a snowplow on the road on a snowy winter day –- unless it’s slowing down traffic ahead of us and keeping us from getting where we’re going on time.

Drivers, when you encounter a snowplow, you need to give it extra space on each side. The plow on the front of the vehicle often stretches across more than one lane. The plow can also make unexpected moves.

Where to drive (and not drive) when there’s a snowplow on the road

It’s generally safest to stay behind the snowplow rather than try to pass it and get ahead of it. If you try to go around it, you’re running the risk of snow getting blown in your path or over your windshield and being unable to see.

You’re also going in to the stretch of road that hasn’t yet been cleared. You could become stranded and require emergency resources to be deployed to get you out or – worse – cause a crash.

What does the law require?

For the safety of snowplow operators and everyone else on the road, Wisconsin law requires that drivers get no closer than 200 feet behind a working snowplow if they’re on a highway with a speed limit of over 35 mph.

Those who are caught violating the law can be fined $175. They can also get three points on their driving record.

The Wisconsin State Patrol advises drivers to stay off the roads if possible when conditions are especially bad. If you have to travel, it’s essential to slow down, obey the law and not do anything that will impede or endanger those who are working to clear the roads.

In the previous decade, Wisconsin had over 3,000 snowplow-related crashes in which close to 400 people were injured and three died. If you’ve been injured in a crash because another driver didn’t follow the appropriate precautions around a snowplow or perhaps because a snowplow driver acted dangerously, you have a right to seek compensation. An experienced attorney can help you determine what you need to cover the costs of medical care, lost wages and other expenses and damages.

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