23: The number of crashes between cars and snow plows this winter

You should stay at least five car lengths behind a snowplow – 10 if possible.
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As parts of the state prepare for a winter storm this week, here's another tip Minnesota drivers: be careful around snow plows.

There have been 23 crashes involving the public and MnDOT snow plows already this winter, the department said in a Facebook post Friday.

In one of the crashes, two people were injured when a driver tried passing the warning truck that was trailing a MnDOT plow on Interstate 94 in Stearns County. While passing in the right lane, the driver hit the plow and was then struck by a semi.

Though no one was killed or seriously injured in that accident, MnDOT says their snowplows can weigh over 48,000 pounds – that's 15 times more than the average vehicle. So when cars and plows collide, the plow "always wins," the department said in the post.

So driver, keep a safe distance from snow plows on the road – and never assume that a plow driver can see you, the department said.

How to drive near plows

The best way to stay safe around snow plows is by staying back far enough so if you have to brake, you won't slide into the plow, Kevin Gutknecht, director of communications at MnDOT, told GoMN.

You should stay at least five car lengths behind the plow – 10 if possible, the department advises. And don't forget to watch your speed.

"Slow down when there is snow and/or ice on the road," Gutknecht said. "Your vehicle will behave differently than it does on a dry road in July."

He added that passing a snow plow should be avoided whenever possible, because blowing snow can block your view of what's on the other side.

"But, to re-emphasize – slow down," Gutknecht said.

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