Do snow plow drivers have to obey the vehicle and traffic law?

Vehicle & Traffic Law section 1103(b) exempts the rules of the road to "persons, teams, motor vehicles, and other equipment while actually engaged in work on a highway" with two major caveats.

  1. Rules regarding drug and alcohol use are always in effect
  2. There is still a duty to work "with due regard for the safety of all persons" and operators are still liable for "the consequences of their reckless disregard for the safety of others."

In other words, snow plow operators will not get a ticket for going through a stop sign or having the plow blade slightly over the centerline if they do it in a safe manner, but they can still be liable for any accidents if not done with regard to the safety of others.

Note that the case law for this section of the V&T is over 20 pages of examples so there are lots of decisions that need to be reviewed and a blanket statement that drivers don't have to obey the V&T is not true. Also, this section of law only applies when a plow driver is actually engaged in snow and ice control operations and not hauling or getting to the road to be plowed, but it does include turning around as part of the snow and ice control operations.

Be safe, be seen, or be sorry.

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