MnDOT checks lighted markers on snowplow blades for safety –

In the winter season of 2017-18, there were 84 collisions including drivers and Minnesota Department of Transport snowplows. That was a significant boost over the 55 crashes reported the winter previously, and it was one of the most in the past four winters.

With a basic invention, Nate Smith, part of the agency’s Security Innovation Group, hopes to make things more secure for both rake operators and vehicle drivers and to bring crash numbers down.

The group created the concept for a lighted plow marker, which looks sort of like a lightsaber from the “Star Wars” movies. The markers are plastic tubes that Smith packs with LED rope lights and mounts on the outer edges of the plow’s blades. The goal is to make it simpler for motorists to see the edges of the blades so they do not hit them.

The markers could be particularly valuable for highlighting the wing blades on the sides of plows that often are utilized for clearing snow from shoulders and turn lanes and are challenging for motorists to see at night. In 2015, wing blades were struck eight times.

Plows frequently kick up giant plumes of snow and odd vision for drivers and rake drivers. Snow clouds can hide the rakes’ strobe lights. However the flexible markers that radiance orange are really brilliant, and motorists can see them from approximately a half-mile away, even in bad presence, Smith stated.

By law, snowplows are considered emergency situation cars, so motorists ought to yield to them and give a lot of clearance.

The cars, which weigh 60,000 pounds and are more than 20 feet broad, are enabled to use up two lanes. The radiant brand-new rake markers ought to help vehicle drivers determine where the plow blades are and whether it is safe to pass.

Smith stated the markers also assist plow operators see the edge of the blade. That assists them avoid falling mailboxes, signs or other roadside barriers as they clear the snow.

In the past, ideas like the lighted plow markers had to be authorized by a committee prior to they could be executed. Smith, a six-year MnDOT veteran and a heavy equipment mechanic at the firm’s Maple Grove truck station, said the Safety Innovation Group has liberty to experiment.

The lighted plow markers were a “no-brainer,” he said. As a plow motorist, “I can see right where the suggestion [of the blade] is.”

Each rake marker expenses about $30 to make, and they are being checked on about 20 lorries in the city location.

If they prove to be efficient, Smith said they might be installed on all 237 MnDOT rakes in the city area and eventually on plows statewide.

That is a little cost to pay if it can avoid plow-vehicle crashes.

“We do not ever wish to put a chauffeur or rake operator because scenario,” he said.

The Safety Innovation Group has actually also spearheaded other jobs intending to make plows more secure. The group developed the idea for little deflectors on the rakes’ hoods to avoid ice from developing up on and after that striking windshields.

It likewise pressed to move the rakes’ rearview video cameras to a brand-new position to offer plow operators a better view.

When the cams were attached to the lower part of the rake, they often became covered with snow that obscured the view. Smith and the safety team attempted installing them high atop the cab to keep them clear– and it worked, he stated.

Follow news about traffic and travelling at The Drive on Got traffic or transport questions, or story ideas? Email, tweet @stribdrive or call Tim Harlow at 612-673-7768.


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