Changing the color of lights on Iowa snowplow trucks to reduce crashes

Iowa snowplow truck pushing snow

 

For the past two winters the Iowa DOT has been conducting a pilot project to see if blue-and-white LED lights on the back of snowplow trucks would reduce crashes. They tested the snowplows in 12 Iowa counties in central Iowa.  The results were dramatic. Over the past two winters there were 10 crashes that involved cars rear-ending or sideswiping snowplow trucks with the blue-and-white LED lights. That is a dramatic reduction compared to the 29 crashes over the two previous winter seasons in which the snowplow trucks only had flashing amber lights.  The blue and white lights are able to cut through the fog of the snowplow and makes the snowplow trucks more visible.

 

Currently under state law, Iowa’s big orange snowplow trucks are only equipped with the flashing amber lights. In 2015, the Iowa Legislature modified the law so that the pilot project could take place. The pilot study allowed for three years to test out the blue-and-white LED lights. However, with such dramatic results after just two years the DOT has determined that a third year wasn’t necessary.  The plan is to ask state legislators this January to consider passing a law that will make all Iowa snowplow trucks equipped with the new blue-and-white LED lights. The DOT also noted that the snowplows will not be confused with emergency vehicles because those vehicles have red and blue flashing lights. If this law passes in 2018 it will help keep Iowans safer in hazardous winter driving.

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