Dale Schmidt

Dale Schmidt

Have you ever been stopped on the side of the road and a vehicle drives by you and your entire car shook due to how close it was and how fast it was traveling when it went by you?

Even with the current law on the books that all vehicles must either slow down or move over when passing a stopped emergency vehicle, highway maintenance vehicle or tow truck, this still occurs every day. I start this month by asking once again, please slow down. Slowing down is not 5 or 10 miles per hour; slowing down is a significant slowdown. When I am driving past a stopped emergency vehicle in a 55 mile-per-hour zone, I always slow down to a speed of no more than 35 miles per hour. I ask that you consider doing the same.

In addition, if you have not noticed, the snow season has arrived. That means that we expect our county highway department and local municipalities to be out clearing the highways and streets so we can travel safely on our streets and highways. However, our county is very large and the number of plow trucks and plow truck drivers is limited. Please be patient as they work to clear our streets and highways. I have a few tips for you on how you can help them to be more efficient.

Please do not park on the streets or leave your car along the highway when snow is expected. Your car is an obstruction to clearing the streets and highways.

Give adequate space when passing by a snowplow in the opposite direction by driving closer to the shoulder or curb. Plows need to clear not only the lane of traffic but also the centerline. The only way to clear off the centerline is for the plow blade to actually be on top of the centerline. Please give them space.

It is illegal to follow a snowplow at a distance of less than 200 feet, or two-thirds the length of a football field, when the speed limit is more than 35mph.

It is illegal to follow a snowplow at a distance of 75 feet or less when the speed limit is 35 mph or less.

Passing a snowplow is legal, but use extra caution when doing so as visibility is likely limited as to what is on the other side of that snowplow, including the road conditions on the other side of that plow.

Be prepared that a snowplow may need to stop or turn in locations that you might not be expecting.

Finally, I would like to remind you that if you are approaching a stopped emergency vehicle on the side of the road, especially when you see a car in the ditch, there is a reason that they are stopped there and you should be using extra caution.

If a car is in the ditch, that means that the roadway is likely slippery and the risk is there that you too may end up in the ditch if you are not careful. Please slow down and be courteous of everyone else so everyone can make it home safely.

A little courtesy and caution when driving will help everyone in our efforts to make Dodge County a safe and enjoyable place to live, work and visit.

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