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Winter Road Safety

Saskatchewan’s winter climate can be extreme – frigid cold, severe changes in temperature, strong winds and heavy snowfall. This weather can wreak havoc on our roads and keep snowplow crews moving to clear snow and ice from Saskatchewan’s 26,000 km highway network.

Ministry of Highways and Infrastructure snow removal equipment now features blue and amber flashing lights to increase their visibility and to improve the safety of their operators and all motorists. Learn more: Seeing Blue? Slow Down, Stay Back, Stay Safe

Snow plow safety

  • Blading snow off the road creates a “mini blizzard” next to and behind the snowplow, especially in windy conditions. This is referred to as the SNOW ZONE.
  • It can be difficult to see snow removal equipment within the Snow Zone. Watch for the black and yellow checkerboard, wind scoop, and flashing amber and red lights – called wig wag lights – on the rear of the snow plow truck. Slow down and drive with caution.
  • Slow to 60 km when passing a snow plow with lights flashing when it is pulled over to the side of the road. It's the law.
  • Snow plows pull over about every 10-15 km to allow motorists to pass, so take your time, wait and be safe.
  • Snow plows must travel slower than regular traffic when pushing snow and spreading salt and sand. Give the snow plow operator room to do their job.
  • Snow plows stop at all railway crossings to ensure it is safe to cross and the plow blade will clear the track.
  • Snow plow operators are often out in treacherous conditions to make the highways as safe as possible for you – not to get in your way.
  • Every winter, snow plows are hit by motorists that don’t see them or see them too late. The vast majority of these accidents are rear‐end collision incidents where motorists have not driven with caution in the snow.

Winter maintenance

Regular inspections are conducted to determine the state of a highway, which helps determine the following:

  • What maintenance may be needed
  • What updates to driving conditions need to be made on our Highway Hotline

‘Night Riders’ travel highways around Regina, Moose Jaw, Saskatoon, and Prince Albert, routes of 500 km, to report conditions and treat snow and ice during late night and early morning shifts.

How highways are prioritized for snow removal

We prioritize for snow removal and ice treatment based on highway classification and traffic volumes (Annual Average Daily Traffic – AADT).

Level 1 – (the highest priority given) inter-provincial routes and highways with greater than 1,500 AADT:
  • Examples are Highways 1, 7, 10, 11, 16, and 39
  • Snow removal initiated as soon as practical or after 3 cm of snow accumulated on driving lines
  • Snow plowed and ice treated (or assessed for treatment) within six hours of the end of the storm (extra time may be needed in extreme circumstances)
Level 2 – Highways with AADT between 300 and 1,500:
  • Snow plowed and ice treated (or assessed for treatment) from driving lanes within 12 hours of the end of the storm
  • Snow removal starts when resources available without jeopardizing service on Level 1 highways
Level 3 – Highways with an AADT less than 300:
  • Snow removal starts as soon as resources available without jeopardizing service on Level 1 or 2 highways
  • Should be plowed and ice treated (or assessed for treatment) within 24 hours of the storm ending

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