SIDNEY – More Ohio Department of Transportation snowplows have been hit by other drivers in the past two-and-a-half weeks than were hit during the entire 2019-20 winter season.
Nine ODOT plows have been hit by other vehicles in recent weeks. Last winter, eight were hit during the entire season.
“We don’t know what’s going on out there,” said Tiffany Oliphant, a public information officer for ODOT District 7, “but we can’t stress enough to, first, put your distractions down, two, if you don’t have to be out on the road, please, just don’t get out on the road. But if you have to get out on the road, take your time, take it slow, and when you see our trucks give them room to do their job.”
Two plows from ODOT District 7, which is headquartered in Sidney, were hit Monday while clearing roads of snow. One was struck on U.S. 127 in Mercer County while another was struck on state Route 47 near Versailles in Darke County.
The plow that was hit in Darke County was clipped by a semi that was traveling in the opposite direction. The plow wasn’t damaged, but the semi suffered damage in the crash.
The plow that was hit in Mercer County was rear-ended by a car. Both the car and the plow suffered damage in the crash.
When plows are damaged, it can cause ODOT to be down a plow on the road potentially for several hours, delaying the removal of snow and ice from roadways.
“That can be a few hours to get another truck onto that route at that time,” Oliphant said. “There’s a chain reaction to it when a truck gets hit.”
None of the snowplow drivers who have been hit this year needed to be transported to a hospital, but that’s always a concern for ODOT. And even if they don’t suffer physical trauma, there’s also concern about their mental health.
“People are shaken up,” Oliphant said. “Our drivers are shaken up. You’re doing your job. Our drivers are doing their job. They’re not expecting to get into an accident.”
To ensure that everyone remains safe, including snowplow drivers and other motorists, Oliphant said people need to pay attention while driving and give plows plenty of room to work.
“You don’t know what the driver’s going to do,” she said. “So your best bet is to give them enough space, be as far away from them as possible.
“Give them the room that they need. It’s a huge truck. If they’re making a left, a lot of times they can’t see you.”
Reach the writer at [email protected] or 937-538-4824.