Understanding Why Snow Plow Crews Block Driveways

Winter brings its share of challenges, and one that consistently irks homeowners is the dreaded driveway blockade post-snow plowing. You’ve cleared your drive, only to find it barricaded by a wall of snow, courtesy of the city’s snow removal efforts. It’s frustrating, isn’t it?

Understanding why this happens is key to mitigating the inconvenience. Plow crews are on a mission to clear roads swiftly and effectively, yet the resulting snowbanks can feel like a personal affront. It’s not intentional; it’s a matter of practicality and physics. Let’s delve into the why and how of plow-created snow barriers.

Why Do Snow Plow Crews Block Driveways

Understanding the mechanics behind snow plowing operations can alleviate your frustration when you find your driveway blocked post-clearance. Snow plows must maintain a certain speed to effectively move snow to the side. This minimum speed is vital to ensure that snow does not simply gather in front of the plow, but is instead cast aside, making the roads passable.

In a densely populated area, the sheer number of driveways makes it impractical for plow operators to raise and lower their blades at each entrance. It’s not a targeted action, but a consequence of plowing snow from the roads efficiently. Given the considerable amount of driveways, operators focus on clearing the roads first and foremost for public safety.

When you’re planning to clear your driveway, it’s recommended to wait until the plow crews have gone through your area. This approach can save you from having to clear the same snow repeatedly. Additionally, post-road plowing, specialized sidewalk-clearing equipment is typically deployed to tackle any obstructed curb-faced sidewalks.

Remember, while plow operators are skilled at controlling their vehicles and the snow they displace, they cannot always direct where the snow falls, particularly when it comes to clearing city roads efficiently. Your best bet is to stay informed about the plowing schedule and plan your snow clearing activities accordingly.

The Importance of Snow Plowing

Ensuring Safe Passage

You rely on roadways to get you from point A to point B, particularly during winter’s harsh conditions. Effective snow plowing is critical; it’s not just about convenience but safety. Roads covered in snow and ice pose significant risks, from minor fender benders to major traffic accidents. Here’s how snow plowing ensures safe passage:

  • Prevents snow and ice bonding: Salt vehicles operate regularly, preventing the accumulation of snow and ice on primary streets.
  • Clears snow after significant accumulation: Plows are deployed when snow reaches over 6cm, making sure that roads are passable and clear.
  • Aims for bare pavements: The goal is to keep major routes clear down to the hard pavement for safer driving conditions.

Snow plowing keeps traffic flowing smoothly and ensures emergency vehicles can respond quickly. Priority is given to major arterial roads and collectors, ensuring access within blocks of most areas, including school bus operations. Crews work tirelessly, usually overnight, to minimize disruption and deal with less traffic, ensuring that snow removal is maximized.


Maintaining Accessibility

Accessibility to various parts of a town or city is paramount, especially during snow events. Proper snow clearing from roadways and sidewalks guarantees that all residents have access to essential services. Here’s how maintaining accessibility is incorporated into snow clearing efforts:

  • Downtown business access: Clearing of downtown areas is prioritized to support local businesses and allow for timely sidewalk cleaning.
  • Service for residents with accessibility issues: Assistance to those physically incapable of shovelling snow, provided specific criteria are met, including a lack of able-bodied residents in the household and financial constraints.
  • Community support: Agencies offer help to seniors and individuals with disabilities, ensuring they are not cut off during winter months.
  • Residential and local road prioritization: After key routes, attention turns to residential streets to maintain community connectivity.

The system in place is designed to expedite the process, aiming to have one snow plow pass on all streets within 24 hours after a snow event, following Provincial guidelines. The focus remains on maximizing safe travel and efficiency for as many users as possible.

Challenges Faced by Snow Plow Crews

Limited Time and Resources

When facing the arduous task of snow plowing, crews often deal with the harsh reality of limited time and resources. Priority routes must be cleared within a swift 12-hour period, regardless of weather severity. 

The goal of snow removal stretches beyond mere timeliness; it’s to operationalize snow plowing with precision, ensuring a single pass on all streets within 24 hours post-snowfall. Nonetheless, when a blizzard strikes, residential areas might see delays, emphasizing the importance of adapting one’s schedule to weather disruptions.

Snow Accumulation and Drifts

Snow accumulation and drifts present significant hurdles for plow operators. When a snowplow navigates a bend, the snow discharges off the plow’s end, amassing in driveways—a vexing but unavoidable consequence of physics. Homes situated beside both curves and street corners often experience greater snow influx in their adjacent areas; the predicament exacerbates when various precipitation types – from freezing rain to sleet – assail the city.

During protracted snowfalls, priority routes demand repeated plowing to maintain safe transit for heavier traffic volumes before attention can turn to lower-priority residential streets. Here’s where snow drifts particularly impede progress; the long-lasting snowstorms can lead to snow-drift build-up, making passage not only difficult for residents but also for the crews themselves.

Dealing with Blocked Driveways

Clearing Driveways After Plowing

When snow plow crews clear the streets, windrows, or piles of snow deposited at the end of driveways, inevitably form. Understand, this is a byproduct of municipal snow removal operations. 

Effective Communication with Residents

Open channels of communication between residents and snow removal crews are essential for addressing concerns about blocked driveways. As a resident, it’s advantageous to understand and participate in the process by doing the following:

  • Be Patient: Heavy snowfall means it’ll take longer for crews to clear all streets.
  • Stay Informed: Know the local snow clearing schedules and bylaws.
  • Keep the Streets Clear: Avoid parking cars on the street during snow removal.
  • Follow Guidelines: Shovel snow onto your lawn, not back onto the street.

house and driveway covered with fresh snow

Understanding the intricacies of snow removal helps you appreciate the hard work of snow plow crews. Remember they’re tackling a complex task with your safety in mind. Your role is crucial too; by staying informed and cooperating with local guidelines you’re part of the team making winter roads safer. Don’t forget, Riverwood Landscape of Guelph is there if you need help. Together with the snow plow crews we can all weather the storm and keep the community moving smoothly.


Colin Thomas MacMillan

Colin Thomas MacMillan, CEO of Riverwood Landscape, boasts over 8 years of expertise in landscaping and 3 years in transportation and logistics. A prominent figure, he serves as a board member for the Waterloo Chapter of Landscape Ontario and has been a vital part of the community for five years. Recognized for his insights, Colin has contributed to major industry events, including LeadsCON 2023. His entrepreneurial journey in landscaping began post-high school, driven by a lifelong aspiration and self-taught skills. Outside work, Colin's interests span history and video games, and he's dedicated three years to learning German, reflecting his commitment to personal growth. His professional ethos emphasizes a resilient, people-first approach, advocating for mastering current tasks and prioritizing quality in business and client relations. An avid reader of industry articles and an active networker, Colin's dynamic approach to professional development cements his status as a leader and an inspiration in landscaping and logistics.

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