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South Dakota DOT piloting new Blue Light program on snow plows

Published: Jan. 20, 2021 at 10:15 PM CST
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ABERDEEN, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - So far this year, a number of blizzards have swept through South Dakota, reducing visibility for travelers and making roadways dangerous to be on. And what those storms leave behind can be even worse. Mark Peterson, Aberdeen Regional Engineer for the South Dakota Department of Transportation, said even without the high winds, that loose snow can still cause problems for snow plows.

“When a snow plows plowing, it’s kicking up a snow cloud around it. Which can obscure the view from the public, of that vehicle while it’s out there operating.” Peterson said.

But now the DOT might have a way to combat that. As part of a pilot program, 25 plows in northeastern South Dakota have replaced one of their left rear lights for a blue light, and for good reasons.

“Blue light has been studied and shown to pierce fog, low light conditions, and snow clouds a little bit better.” Peterson said.

It’s part of a new safety measure the DOT is undertaking, along with it’s revisions to the SD511 released in December. So far tests are underway to see how drivers react to plows with the blue lights, in support with other tests across the country. And Peterson said plow drivers have already seen a difference.

“They say traffic has seemed to react to it faster, so they don’t run into the back of the plows or get surprised when they come up on them.”

Peterson said that simple change of color has been making a difference already, not only increasing safety for travelers but for snow plow drivers as well.

“So the more time we can give people to react to that, hopefully the less accidents we’ll see out there.”

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