When winter hits, nearly 700 snowplows and other snow removal equipment, such as graders, work to keep Alberta’s highways clear and open to traffic.
Between March 2018 and March 2021, there were approximately 130 collisions involving snowplows contracted by the Alberta government.
Until September 1, 2023, only tow truck drivers and first responders were protected under the Traffic Safety Act. Now all roadside workers stopped on the side of the road, with their flashing lights activated, are covered by these protections. These protections also include new rules for safely passing snowplows.
New rules to follow
Snowplow operators often work in times of poor visibility. If you are following too close, you could be driving blind and passing them is often extremely dangerous.
Drivers must not pass a snowplow when:
- the view along the side of the snowplow is obstructed
- passing would impede the operation of the snowplow
- the act of passing cannot be done safely
Patience is key. Operators will let you pass every 5 to 8 kilometres, or when it is safe to do so.
Drivers who fail to comply with the new rules could receive a $324 fine and 3 demerits.
Winter highway maintenance
Snowplow operators clear roads whenever there are 3 or more cm of snow, or when highways become icy. Sanders make the roads safer, and less slippery, to travel. They also inspect roads and file road reports to 511 Alberta so Albertans can plan their travel.
If you encounter a working snowplow or sander truck on the road, give them space until they can pull over for you to safely pass.