Iowa DOT data shows blue and white lights on plows cut down on accidents

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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG-TV9) -- It is only October, but the Iowa Department of Transportation is getting ready for winter.

This year, there is new data on how much their blue lights have helped keep drivers and plow operators safe.

In 2015, the Iowa DOT started a pilot program that added blue and white lights on plows.

They wanted to see if the lights would increase visibility and reduce the number of crashes.

Typically when a plow is on the road, they're going 20 to 30 miles per hour.

If the sun is down or it's windy and there's a lot of snow it makes it tough to see these plows, especially when cars approach them from behind.

Since the program began, the Iowa DOT has kept track of how effective the blue lights are.

They say the blue and white lights are reducing the number of crashes they've had while their plows are on the road.

From October 2013 to April 2015 there were about 29 crashes involving vehicles rear-ending or side swiping plows.

From October 2015 to April 2017, when they added the blue and white lights, the Iowa DOT says the number of crashes decreased to 10 crashes.

"We were having a lot of plows get hit from behind so we did this pilot project, presented the findings to the state legislature and then eventually they changed the law to allow us to allow us to put blue and white lights on their snow plows during winter operation seasons," Cathy Cutler, with the Iowa Department of Transportation said.

The DOT is in the third year of the testing program and they're currently preparing a proposal for the 2018 Legislative Session. The proposal would get rid of another year of testing the program after results show that these lights do cut down on accidents.

If the proposal is passed, it would permanently change Iowa Code and allow the Iowa DOT to have the blue and white lights on all their snow plows every winter.