'Stop hitting our plows:' Ohio among several states reporting snowplow-involved crashes this winter

A study of crashes involving snow and ice removal equipment by Michigan State University found about 225 crashes occur in the state each year. Researchers said driver misjudgment and loss of control accounted for more than half of the incidents.

COLUMBUS, Ohio – The removal of snow and ice from roadways is meant to increase safety, but the act of being out in extreme weather means dozens of crews from Maine to the Pacific Northwest have been involved in serious crashes.

Ohio is one of many states that have reported incidents involving snowplows, with at least 13 crashes occurring so far this year.

Most crashes end up appearing to be fender-benders, but there have also been several reported fatalities in states such as New York, Rhode Island and Massachusetts.

"Folks, I can’t stress this enough: Pay attention and give our crews room to work," Matt Bruning, the press secretary for the Ohio Department of Transportation, posted on social media after one of the Buckeye State’s most recent crashes. "There is NO reason for anyone to be hitting snowplows."

According to state officials, there are more than 1,100 employees who work around the clock to keep roadways as passable as possible during winter weather events.

"Stop hitting our plows," Bruning said in another tweet pleading with drivers to use caution.


The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration estimates that 70% of the nation’s roadways are located in regions that see 5 or more inches of snow each year.

Before the first snowflakes fly, crews are usually spotted applying treatments to help prevent dangerous ice buildup.

Despite these preparations, wintry weather is estimated to play a role in more than 1 million crashes annually, with nearly 118,000 people who are either killed or injured.

Researchers at Michigan State University estimate that about 225 crashes involve snow removal equipment in the state. In the study prepared for the Michigan Department of Transportation, researchers examined data from 2012 and 2017 and found most crashes involving snowplows resulted from operators’ misjudgment or loss of control of the equipment.



These errors force agencies to pay out millions in damages and claims around the country, but that is a drop in the bucket when compared to overall snow removal budgets.

The FHA estimates that state and local agencies spend more than $2.3 billion annually on snow and ice removal operations.

The state of Minnesota offered advice for drivers venturing out in the winter weather:

  • Don’t drive distracted.
  • Stay alert for snowplows.
  • Stay back at least ten car lengths behind the plow.
  • Slow down to a safe travel speed for conditions.