BOZEMAN — When you see a green light while you’re out driving, it usually means “go.” But the Montana Department of Transportation says the green lights on the back of their plows mean something different.
“Go slow is what they really mean,” says the MDT Field Maintenance Supervisor Todd Meagher. He has been working for the MDT for a little over 13 years.
“I love my job. It’s still a lot of fun,” says Meagher.
But he says it can also be dangerous. So far this year, there have been eight accidents caused by people trying to pass snowplows.
“If people just realized what’s on that road. Even in this truck I’ve had people try to pass me on Huffine and go straight in the ditch,” says Meagher.
But the risk of an accident isn’t totally due to people trying to pass the plows. It also has to do with poor visibility. This is why green lights are being added to the plows.
“People are traveling with all the snow flying and it helps people to not hit us,” says Meagher.
Walt Kerttula, the equipment shop supervisor, says he did some research and found that green lights are the most visible to the human eye.
“We looked at other states around us and some states were using green,” says Kerttula. “We wanted to make our trucks are safer, and we just felt like the amber lights weren’t doing that. We went to state legislature and changed the bill so we can use multicolored lights.”
Meagher says he thinks the green lights have made a difference so far.
“They really shine, and the green shows up well,” says Meagher.
He says that even though passing a plow isn’t illegal it is still risky. When approaching a plow from the rear drivers should always remember to reduce speed immediately and safely. When approaching an oncoming plow, do not crowd the centerline. The plow operators know the road well and will pull over to let traffic pass as soon as it is safe.
“Just be patient. We want everyone to get home safely,” says Meagher.