Ask a Tropper: If you witness a hazard, report it

Published 10:21 am Friday, January 15, 2016

Question: I read your response in the paper about flashing lights on funeral vehicles, and I have a related question. We live in the country, and the end of our driveway is a U.S. Highway. Can I mount a flashing warning light of some kind on my pickup that I use to plow snow? I need to plow well beyond at the end of our driveway, as the plows can make quite a ridge of snow when they go by, and a warning light would get other drivers’ attention when I am plowing in the dark. Thank you.

Sgt. Troy Christianson Ask a Trooper Minnesota State Patrol

Sgt. Troy Christianson
Ask a Trooper
Minnesota State Patrol

Answer: Under Minnesota State Statute (M.S.S.) 169.64, “Any service vehicle may be equipped with a flashing amber lamp of a type approved by the commissioner of public safety.”

“A service vehicle shall not display the lighted lamp when traveling upon the highway or at any other time except at the scene of a disabled vehicle or while engaged in snow removal or road maintenance.”

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I would also remind you that other traffic on the main roadway will have the right of way, so be sure to pay attention and use due care.

Also, according to M.S.S. 160.2715, “it shall be unlawful to obstruct any highway or deposit snow or ice thereon.” This prohibits the plowing, blowing, shoveling or otherwise placing of snow on to public roads.

This includes the ditch and right of way area along the roads.

Violations are considered misdemeanors, but civil penalties also apply if the placement of snow creates a hazard, such as a slippery area, frozen rut or bump, that contributes to a motor vehicle or pedestrian crash. The civil liability can extend to both the property owner and the person who placed the snow.

If a person observes something appearing to be a hazard, I would encourage them to report it as quickly as possible to the proper law enforcement agency or highway department.

If you have any questions concerning traffic related laws or issues in Minnesota send your questions to Sgt. Troy Christianson – Minnesota State Patrol at 2900 48th Street NW, Rochester MN 55901-5848. (Or reach him at,