‘Plows Use Caution’ Sign – Necessity Or Waste Of Money?

By David Wade, WBZ-TV

BOSTON (CBS) – Have you seen the road signs that have been springing up on approaches to bridges?

They read: “Plows Use Caution.”

Are they a big waste of money, or a safety necessity?

The state has spent thousands of dollars installing the signs on highways. Some people think “caution” in this case should be obvious.

The signs are there to remind plow drivers to be careful not to dump snow off bridges and onto cars below.

It happened last winter to Dr Jennifer Finch as she was driving on Rt. 128.

As she approached an overpass a plow dumped snow over the bridge right onto her car, smashing her windshield.

Fortunately she didn’t get hurt, but boy, was she mad.

WBZ-TV’s David Wade reports

So this year, the state is reminding plow drivers not to do that, and has put up 200 “plows use caution” signs at $200 a pop. That’s a grand total of $40,000.

“It’s a waste of our money,” says Ron Hart. Hart was surprised and miffed when he saw sign after sign going up on Rt. 1.

He says using caution should be common sense. “I don’t know why we need to spend money putting up signs so they understand what their job is,” he says.

The Transportation Dept. doesn’t see it that way. Though they wouldn’t talk to us on-camera, a spokeswoman says: “The signs are a proactive step to prevent injury and property damage.” She even pointed to our own story from last winter as a good example of why the signs are necessary.

But for Ron Hart, the question remains. If you’re a plow driver do you really need a reminder not to push snow off a bridge? “I think they could much better use the $40,000 somewhere else,” says Hart. But, the state says, safety first. The snow is coming all too soon, we’ll see.

More from David Wade
  • Italo

    Instead, I’d like to see them have signs up reminding people every 1,000 feet along the roads, all year long, “Stop Tailgating Vehicle In Front Of You,” which I think is a much more serious and year-round problem on our roads with increasingly aggressive drivers these days.

    • tsssaaall

      Italo, Good idea. If someone tailgates me, I just slow down……..way down.

      DD really?

      • DD

        Yes really, it is all to often on may way home that a driver will be going under the speed limit with a line of 15 cars behind them. If your driving down the road and nobody is behind you and then 5 miles later there is 20 cars behind you…then you are driving too slow.
        People should be re-tested every 10 years to make sure they understand the laws and are not a hazard on the road. People need to remember that you first put your blinker on..then slow down…then turn. All too often I see people jam on the breaks 20ft before their turn and then put the blinker on as they are turning.

    • DD

      maybe they should put up a sign that says “if your being tailgated then your most likely not driving the speed limit, and should pull over and get out of their way”. Italo, if your being tailgated constantly, then maybe you are the problem.

      • Mikey Cyrus

        You do realize that no matter how fast or slow the person in front of you is going, if you hit them you are responsible, right? And there is a specific distance (depending on the speed you are travelling) at which it is impossible to stop in time to avoid a crash if the person in front of you has to hit the brakes unexpectedly.

        Tailgaiting, texting, driving too fast, driving too slow, are all problems that “others” commit. A little education would go a long way. Everyone should have to retake drivers ed every 5 years or so. We took it once at age 15 when we already knew everything. It would make the roads safer and create jobs/revenue too.

        I always drive a bit over the speed limit but once someone is riding on my tail I purposely slow down. Increasing the distance between myself and the car in front of me makes it less likely I’ll have to slam my brakes which makes it less likely the numb nuts behind me will hit me. The obvious exception is on the highway and the right lane is open, then I’ll move over.

      • speeders aren't the only bad drivers

        Very true, you get behind someone who’s either going well below the speed limit, talking on a cell phone or god forbid texting and driving and going below the speed limit, or the person who has no idea where they are going and slow down and stop at every side street to see if that’s the one they want then speed up again when it isn’t, or the one who doesn’t use a turn signal to turn, let’s not forget the ones who go 45 mph in the fast lane on the highway…….

  • Matt

    I think they are needed. Have you ever talked to a plow driver? It is mind numbing. But then again I am not sure most can read so they may not be needed.

  • Kirbet

    Matt GFY

  • JohnC

    Government loves signs. A few years ago, our town replaced every single street sign in the town. Unless there is an active truck junkyard on the road, it is labelled on the sign as a “scenic road.” There was absolutely nothing wrong with the old signs. I hate to think what it cost.

  • James

    Double Matt GFY, you are probably a paper pusher who sits behind his desk all day in your comfortable office. Before you go and disrespect the actually “hardworking” people of this state you should sit back and think how do you get to work in the morning of a snowstorm? Oh wait thats right that PLOW DRIVER whos been plowing snow all night so that disrespectful people like you can get to work in the morning. Plow drivers go through alot more than you think , they work hours upon hours on end, and have to deal with people on the roads who are risk to there safety with getting to close to them. Also those signs are needed for two reasons 1. for the reason stated in the article and 2. Because of the bridge expansion joints, plows have to go slow over them because if not the plow will trip and go up in the air. Have you ever experienced tripping a plow? didnt think so its not really welcoming. My advice to you SIR think before you speak

    • tsssaaall

      great post James

  • Willow

    Way to go James. It’s so easy to speak out of turn when someone has no idea of what’s involved in a job such a that of a snow plow driver. We should all be grateful for the long hours and hard work involved with keeping our roads safe and snow free. Thank you!

  • jaygee

    Wasteful spending comes with the territory in this state. This is small potatoes compared to some of the exorbitant salaries and retirement benefits for the well connected that are handed out by our politicians. Of course, they also take care of themselves and their families also so why worry about a mere $200,000 in road signs?

  • Lowell Peabody

    Let’s see, snow plowers have been around for how many years?? We need signs to direct them today?? Why aren’t they licensed and trained? This signage bit is not only ridiculous but perhaps obnoxious.

  • Amaris

    Money well spent! I wish we had similar signs posted in Ohio. Yesterday, I was driving on I-480 heading to work, and a snow plow dumped a large amount of snow and ice over the bridge above me. Luckily, I was unharmed in the incident, but it easily could have been a deadly mistake by the snow plower. The waterfall of snow/ice that cascaded from the bridge left over $1000 in damages to my car including a pushed in and completely cracked windshield, dents in my roof and hood, damage that will require my front fender to be completely replaced, and a missing cover for my fog light. Also, my driver side windshield wiper was damaged so badly that it was bent around the driver side door. Fortunately, I was able to drive the car to the side of the road safely, but like I said before this could have easily been a fatal mistake by the snow plower. If I had read this article before this incident I would have probably agreed that it was a waste of money, but afterwards I see the value. $40,000 for preventing such damage to people’s cars, and potentially saving lives. Money well spent. :-)

  • http://viabrevis.wordpress.com/2012/12/07/a-cautionary-note/ A Cautionary Note « Short Cuts Blog

    […] unsporting to do the obvious, namely: google “plows use caution,” look at the first hit [http://boston.cbslocal.com/2011/12/14/plows-use-caution-sign-necessity-or-waste-of-money/], and call it a day, you might with confidence rule out reading #1 (the assertion of fact) on the […]

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