Car Crash with Snowplow

Photo courtesy of the Washington State Patrol

2 Dead in Early Morning Collision

There’s been another fatal snowplow accident this winter—this time in Montesano, near Aberdeen.

According to the Washington State Patrol, a snowplow, driven by a 50-year-old local man, was heading west on State Route 12, just outside of Montesano, early Sunday morning. It was spreading sand and salt before it was involved in a collision that caused the deaths of two Aberdeen residents.

The plow had just made a U-turn to head west on Highway 12, when a 1991 Acura Integra, also heading west, crashed into the driver’s side of the slow plow. The Acura driver and one of the three passengers were killed in the crash. One of the passengers, a 29-year-old woman was airlifted to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, and a 28-year-old man was taken to Tacoma General Hospital.

Troopers say that the conditions were foggy at the time of the wreck and temperatures near freezing.  The truck was salting the roads, in anticipation of the upcoming freeze.

Final Report Could Take Months

The driver of the snowplow was uninjured.   The highway was blocked for over 7 hours as investigators went to work on finding the cause of the accident.

Trooper Randy Hullinger, with the Washington State Patrol, noted that the investigation could take quite awhile. “We have witnesses we have spoken to, roadway evidence, a lot of things to look at to come up with a final explanation.” He said their major accident team is known as MAT and deal with the worst of traffic collisions. “Whenever you have a MAT case they look at everything and absolutely anything to do with this collision. They take a long time; it may be several months before they issue a final report.”

The WSP’s immediate report stated that none of the four occupants of the Acura were wearing seat belts.

Plowing Through the Snow and Ice

Winter driving conditions can create challenges for even the best of drivers. Road conditions, the time of day, and a million unknown variables amongst fellow travelers can be the makings of a tragic event. As Trooper Hullinger alluded to, a mash-up between a car and a snowplow can be a terrible thing. What can learn from this sad story?

Clearing the Streets

Snow Plow drivers serve the community well during the worst parts of winter. Keeping the roads clear of snow and ice is a busy job when mother nature is also working overtime. It’s often a thankless job as much of a plow driver’s work is done before you and I even get up.

Snow plows come in a variety of sizes. From the industrial mammoths to many seasonal or private business owners donning a blade to front of their pick-up trucks, clearing parking lots and side streets is big business. Cities and towns often allocate large amounts of funding for equipment and supplies needed for snow-removal and managing sleet and ice. For many on the outskirts of town or with small businesses along the way, these plows have a vital role in helping them stay fiscally afloat and accessible when the weather turns blistery cold.

For commuters and drivers–they are critical in safely navigating to their destinations.

Snowplow Safety Tips for Drivers

Small and Large Considerations

Due to the cumbersome size and density of large plow vehicles, incidents that occur between a passenger vehicle and plow will rarely end well for the lighter or smaller vehicle.  Crashing into the large blades or solid density of the truck can lead to severe or life-threatening injuries and damages, even fatalities, for smaller vehicles’ and their passengers. That’s why it is paramount to obey caution and speed limit signs, always heeding the warnings to always stay on the left side of a plow, giving them plenty of space to work without obstructions.

Accidents Can Occur

Snowplow operators are subject to the same rules of the road as other motorists. They are expected to wear a seat belt and observe speed limit and caution signs as well, although this is probably not a major concern, as winter driving conditions are typically slower and more challenging for everyone.

Ongoing snowy winter weather can lead to a limited number of plow operators working around the clock to stay ahead of road maintenance. Just as is the case for any other driver on the road, snowplow operators can make hazardous mistakes or errors in their work. Long days and early morning hours can lead to driver fatigue or inattention.

When collisions occur, even between passenger vehicles and snowplows, victims are entitled to compensation for damages and injuries from at-fault drivers. This restitution may include liability coverage for vehicles of a business owner as well as private parties.

Snowplow Safety Tips for Drivers

  • For all drivers alike, remember to use extra caution when traveling around snowplows to ensure that everyone gets home safely, even when there’s snow and ice. Slowing your speed down for weather conditions is the first safety step to take.
  • If you see plows out and no snow, chances are, they preparing the roads for ice and freezing conditions ahead of freezing temperatures. Keep your distance and let them work. Everyone will benefit from this precaution.
  • Drive with your lights on so that a plow operator can see you–even during daylight hours. Fog and sleet can blur a driver’s visibility around them as well as in their mirrors. Snow and wind can create snow clouds behind a moving vehicle. This can also interfere with visibility. Leaving some distance between you and the plow will help alleviate the risks of contact due to poor visibility.
  • When passing a snowplow, always stick to the left side. Snow and debris from the blade will be deposited on the right side of the vehicle, potentially hitting tail-gators. Remember, and this bears repeating–use extra caution when driving around a plow. It could be a matter of life or death.

Our Auto Accident & Personal Injury Lawyers Are Here to Help You

If you or a loved one have been injured in an accident with a snowplow, or in any other type of vehicle crash, call Fielding Law Group today. While some crashes are truly an accident, unfortunately, others are caused by negligence, in one form or another. In these type of crashes, either the driver, their company, or the insurance company should be held liable for victims’ injuries and damages that resulted from the crash.

At Fielding Law Group, we provide you with a free consultation to determine the extent of these damages and create a game plan to settle your case. You may not be familiar with the tactics insurance companies use to undervalue potential claims–but we are! Our team of experienced personal injury attorneys will help you recover the compensation and settlement you deserve and are entitled to. Remember: Don’t let an accident wreck YOU!