Although the winter has been relatively mild in Idaho this year and snowplows aren’t being overworked, some still have been damaged while maintaining highways.
ITD’s Office of Risk Management reports 35 mishaps involving snowplows occurred between Oct. 27 and Jan. 15. Districts 3 and 4 report the most incidents – 11 and 10 respectively. The other four districts account for a combined 14 incidents.
Many of the occurrences resulted from plow blades hitting soft shoulders, railroad tracks or raised pavement. Damage typically was limited to the plow “harness” that attaches blades to trucks.
The most costly plow crash thus far, came on Dec. 5 when a plow operating in the passing lane of Interstate 86 was hit in the rear. The collision caused the snowplow truck to spin around and roll onto its side. ITD’s vehicle sustained an estimated $80,000 in damage.
Through mid-January, collective damage to ITD plows in all 35 incidents is estimated at $111,874; another $7,620 in property damage also has been documented.
Several snowplow trucks damaged overhead doors or other ITD equipment when backing out of the maintenance building.
One incident not captured in the report is a classic reason ITD warns motorists to never pass an operating plow on the right.
Two plows were operating in tandem on Jan.22 near Island Park. A passenger vehicle passed the trailing snowplow that was operating in the right lane. After passing the plow, the driver pulled back into the right lane and attempted to go around ITD’s lead truck but was unaware of an extended wing plow.
The passenger vehicle struck the right rear corner of the truck, causing only minor damage. The minivan was not towed and the ITD truck returned to service following a brief investigation.