“What’s New in County 22?”
With the winter weather lately it seems like when I get up in the morning I am playing Bill Murray’s character in the movie “Groundhog Day” when he lives the same day over and over, repeating everything he has been doing when he wakes up. It has been brutal for us and everyone else the last few weeks. Lately when we have had the winter storms, I have been getting up early to help drivers stuck in the middle of the roadways or ditches. Most of the bad mornings have been when the state or county plows have not been out all night. When they do come out they have not caught up to plow all the roads yet, but people are still trying to drive on them. I see several vehicles I wouldn’t have even tried to drive on the roadway that are not four wheel drive but smaller vehicles that will not go through drifts. Please use caution and give us a “brake”. I was recently at a semi-tractor trailer accident where the semi slid into the ditch on “black ice” and while waiting for the wrecker I was still clocking vehicles on my radar at 58 and 60 mph.
Iowa has a move over or slow down law that requires a driver to change lanes or slow down, absent any other direction from a peach officer, when approaching flashing lights. Violation of this law is a scheduled fine of $100 plus surcharge and court costs. If a person is involved in property damage or a crash resulting from this violation, that person’s driver’s license could be suspended. When you see our flashing lights, please slow down.
Here are some tips on snowplow safety from the Iowa DOT
- When overtaking a snowplow, be aware that snowplows often travel only 5 – 35 mph. When you spot a snowplow ahead, slow down to reduce speed differential.
- Snowplows may need to stop or take evasive action to avoid stranded vehicles. Maintain a safe following distance and be prepared to stop.
- Be cautious in areas of blowing snow as it could conceal a snowplow.
- If you do pass a snowplow, be sure that you have a clear vision ahead before passing. Allow plenty of room when passing, and do not cut in too quickly. On two lane roads, drivers will pull over periodically to let vehicles pass.
- On multi-lane roads, watch for plows operating in the left lane. Never pass a snowplow on the right. Many snowplows are equipped with a wing blade that expands to the right and may be hidden by blowing snow.
- Do not attempt to pass a snowplow when visibility is severely reduced.
- Move as far away from the centerline of the pavement as you safely can when meeting a snowplow on a two-lane road. The plow may be trying to catch the middle of the road.
In addition, if you are stuck or go into the ditch, give dispatch a call. #1 so we know that you are safe, and #2 it gives a chance to ask you what wrecker you would like before we go ahead and call one for you.
And if you have any questions or comments, feel free to contact me anytime, e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or stop by to see me.
Thanks and be safe,
Sheriff Mike Tschirgi