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Ask a Trooper: Safe snow removal practices

Minnesota State Patrol courtesy photo

Question: What is the law about pickup trucks with the flashing amber lights? I noticed some of them traveling down the road when they are not actively plowing. Also, is there a law against plowing or blowing snow onto a public road?

Answer: With the recent amount of record snowfall that we received, it can be a challenge for all of us to remove snow safely.

Minnesota state law says that a service vehicle shall not display a lighted lamp when traveling on the highway or at any other time except at the scene of a disabled vehicle or while conducting snow removal or road maintenance.

Any service vehicle may be equipped with a flashing amber lamp of a type approved by the commissioner of public safety. Remember that other traffic on the main roadway will have the right of way, so be sure to pay attention and use due care.

As far as moving snow onto a public roadway, it is a violation to obstruct any highway with snow or ice. Activities such as plowing, blowing or shoveling snow onto public roads is prohibited. This includes the ditch and right-of-way area along the roads.

Civil penalties can also apply if the placement of snow creates a hazard, such as a slippery area, frozen rut or bump that contributes to a motor vehicle or pedestrian crash. The civil liability can extend to both the property owner and the person who placed the snow.

Please remember to also help out local fire departments by making a path and clearing snow around a fire hydrant when it is on or close to your property.

A portion of state statutes were used with permission from the Office of the Revisor of Statutes. If you have any questions concerning traffic related laws or issues in Minnesota, send your questions to Trp. Jesse Grabow — Minnesota State Patrol at 1000 Highway 10 West, Detroit Lakes, MN 56501-2205. (You can follow him on Twitter @MSPPIO_NW or reach him at, jesse.grabow@state.mn.us).

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