How to

8 February 2017

Temporary Snow Ploughs: Laws & Regulations

For all the joy it can provide, heavy snowfall is certainly not without its drawbacks; people get snowed into their homes, dangerous patches of ice litter the pathways and the roads completely shut down when winter gives us its worst.

To combat this, many businesses and local authorities choose to make use of temporary snow ploughs, fitted to their existing heavy vehicles, to clear roads themselves without the need to invest in third-party services or specialist vehicles. However, you can’t just strap a large shovel to the front of any old car - the use of temporary snow ploughs is governed by strict and specific regulations, alongside some additional government guidelines, which we will explore here.

Mounting the Plough

As per C&U Regulation 100, it is the vehicle operator’s responsibility to ensure that the plough is safely mounted to the vehicle in such a way “that neither danger nor nuisance is likely to be caused to any person or property by reason of the load or any part thereof falling or being blown from the vehicle or by reason of any other movement of the load or any part thereof in relation to the vehicle.”

In basic terms, that translates to, ‘if it falls off, it’s your fault!’ These plough attachments tend to be comprised of some pretty weighty parts, so failure to properly secure it to your vehicle could lead to serious injury. Don’t be that guy…

Exactly how to go about mounting a temporary snow plough will depend on the type of vehicle you are attaching it to. For many of the more commonly used vehicles, such as tractors, purpose-built kits are available. If unsure, a little online research on the make and model of both your plough and vehicle should provide the necessary answers, of which there are too many possibilities to list here.

Lighting Regulations

The provision of adequate lighting for vehicles carrying a temporary snow plough is governed by the Road Vehicles Lighting Regulations 1989 (RVLR). More specifically, RVLR Regulation 21 states that if the snow plough obscures any obligatory lighting functions, additional lamps must be fitted to fulfil the function. Additionally, front and rear position lamps/reflectors no further than 400mm from the outer edge are a legal requirement, providing the existing lighting does not already fulfil this requirement.

RVLR Regulation 11 also allows the installation of amber warning beacons on vehicles used for road clearance, although these must be mounted at least 1.2m from the ground and flash at a constant rate between 60-240 times per minute. If fitted, at least one of these beacons must be visible from any point around the vehicle.

If you wish to add retro-reflective strips in order to make the vehicle more visible, ensure that you are in compliance with regulations concerning the colour of such additions, which, as outlined RVLR Regulation 11, state that vehicle lighting must show only red to the rear, amber to the side and colours other than red to the front.

Weights & Dimensions

All vehicles destined for use on public roads must comply with the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986 (C&U). These regulations state the maximum permitted overall vehicle dimensions (C&U Regulation 7 (length) & 8 (width)), as defined by C&U Regulation 3. Said definitions provide an exemption for snow ploughs in determining a vehicle’s overall dimensions.

While no maximum size is given for temporary snow ploughs, give some thought as to whether the size of such projections could be considered a breach of C&U Regulation 100, as outlined previously.

In the case of some larger vehicles, it may be worth considering whether the extra mass of the snowplough causes any maximum permitted weights to be exceeded.

Insurance & Liability

While insurance is of course a requirement for all road vehicles, it is advised to check with your provider whether the use of a snow plough is covered under your policy. If not, this must be amended before commencing use of the plough.

In the case of anyone other than a local authority clearing snow from a public highway, liability must be agreed with the relevant local authority for any damage to the road surface and furniture.

Other Legal Requirements

You MUST ensure that your vehicle is compliant with all requirements concerning insurance, licensing (tax) and registration. Basic, I know, but forgotten more often than you may think.

Outside of those ‘exempted’ by HMRC, all other vehicles operating on a public highway must run on duty paid fuel. Exempted vehicles, including agricultural tractors, light agricultural vehicles and agricultural material handlers used for snow clearing on public roads, may instead run on ‘red’ diesel, which attracts a lower rate of duty.

Additional details can be found in HMRC’s Notice 75.

A Final Note...

Just in case all that got a little over-serious for you, I'll leave you with the lord of the snow ploughing industry, the ever-famous Mr Plow! (Sorry, I couldn't resist...)

Sam Bonson

Sam is an aspiring novelist with a passion for fantasy and crime thrillers. He is currently working as a content writer, journalist & editor in an attempt to expand his horizons.