What Do Snowplows Actually Do?
Plows are for more than just removing snow
Snowplows travel slowly at usually 30 miles per hour or less. Plows aren't just removing snow, and also may be spreading sand or deicer on roads. Snowplows also can plow wide stretches of roadways, which can go up to 24 feet.
Different types of storms require the use of different snow-fighting techniques, and the decision to plow or use salt depends on the anticipated weather conditions. Whether an operator is plowing snow from a roadway depends on the depth or heaviness of snow or slush, severity of the storm and in what stage of the storm the truck is being operated.
In addition, temperature plays a role as to whether or not to plow. If temperature is below 20 degrees Fahrenheit and not expect to increase, salt will not be effective. But if the temperature is 20 degrees Fahrenheit or more with the sun shining and anticipated to increase or remain steady, salt would be more effective than plowing. Under the wrong conditions, plowing can create a polished street surface leading to glare ice.
State of Connecticut Department of Transportation, “Winter Snow and Ice FAQ,” Go to: https://www.ct.gov/dot/lib/dot/documents/dmaintenance/winter_snow_&_ice_faq_rev_11-9-15.pdf
Nebraska Department of Roads, “What Should I do When There is a Snow Plow Ahead of Me on the Highway?” Go to: https://dot.nebraska.gov/media/3471/snowplow.pdf
Kansas Department of Transportation, “Managing Snow and Ice.” Go to: https://www.ksdot.org/PDF_Files/SnowandIceEfforts.pdf
City of Iowa City, “Snow Plowing 101 FAQ.” Go to: https://www.icgov.org/snowFAQs