Tow plow operators training
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Tow Plow Operators Training. Tow Plow. Trailer snow plow designed to be towed with a truck and standard plow configuration 25’ clearing path with a 12’ front plow Improve services by: Providing faster results Reducing cost for equipment, fuel and labor. Contact Time.

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Tow plow
Tow Plow

  • Trailer snow plow designed to be towed with a truck and standard plow configuration

    • 25’ clearing path with a 12’ front plow

  • Improve services by:

    • Providing faster results

    • Reducing cost for equipment, fuel and labor

Contact time
Contact Time

  • 12 total contact hours (required)

    • 8 hours

      • Classroom, hands-on and closed driving course

    • 4 hours

      • Dry-run (pre-winter)

      • Experienced operator will drive to demonstrate proper procedures

      • New operator will drive and be evaluated by experienced operator

      • Checklist to be completed

  • During storm check ride (optional)

    • No set amount of contact time

      • As required by supervisor

      • Experienced operator will drive to demonstrate proper procedures

      • New operator will drive and be evaluated by experienced operator

      • Release to operate the Tow Plow on decision of experienced operator

      • Checklist to be completed during check ride

Course objectives
Course Objectives

  • Identify Tow Plow key components

  • Identify all safety hazards, terms and labels

  • Perform a pre and post-trip inspection

  • Describe preventative maintenance

  • Identify and become familiar with all in-cab operator controls

  • Demonstrate on a closed course the safe and proper Tow Plow operating procedures


  • This training will focus on standard configuration

  • There are many different configurations based on district specific orders

    • Tow Plows may be outfitted with on or more of the following:

      • 1000 gallon liquid chemical tank

      • 8 cubic yard spreader

    • Become familiar with your Tow Plow

    • Train with equipment to be used

    • Train in area that the operator “typically” will be assigned to


  • Become familiar with all operating characteristics prior to operation during a winter event

  • Be aware of your surroundings

  • Must be able to see the Tow Plow

    • Clean windows

    • Clean mirrors

    • In-cab adjustable mirrors

    • Supplemental night lighting

Safety and warning labels
Safety and Warning Labels

  • Become familiar with all safety warnings and labels

    • Replace labels when:

      • Damaged

      • Not legible

  • In addition, become familiar with additional equipment on the Tow Plow including:

    • Spreader

    • Liquid chemical tank(s)

Lockout tagout
Lockout / Tagout

  • All employees shall follow MoDOT’s

    lockout/tagout procedures prior to

    performing any work on the Tow Plow

  • Control of hazardous energy shall be complied with under Section 2.7 The Control of Hazardous Energy (Lockout / Tagout)

  • Follow manufacturer’s procedures

    • Tow Plow

    • Accessory equipment installed on the Tow Plow


  • Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for the inspection and maintenance schedules

  • Hydraulic fluid level on tow vehicle

  • Inspect tires for damage, proper inflation and that all lug nuts are in place and have not become loose

  • “STAY BACK 100 FEET” sign installed on rear of Tow Plow

  • All safety and warning labels are in place and legible

Inspections continued
Inspections Continued

  • Visually inspect all hydraulic hoses and connectors for wear, damage, and leaks

  • Check all cables, chains, and sheaves for excessive wear and damage

  • Visually inspect all plow and wing units

    • Inspect cutting edge and shoes for excessive wear

    • Do not allow cutting edge to wear down into the mounting angle on the mold board

Inspections continued1
Inspections Continued

  • Inspect mounting arms for excessive rust, damage, cracks in welds or bent and broken sections

  • Inspect mounting holes on the arms and lugs for excessive wear

    • Mounting holes greater than 3/16” clearance are to be repaired

  • Dump air from the brake storage tanks on tow vehicle and the Tow Plow to remove excessive moisture and ensure that the system air pressure returns and does not leak

  • Add air brake drier to brake system to prevent air brake freezing during extremely cold weather


  • Grease all required components

    • All plow harness sheave nipples

    • All hydraulic pump drive shaft nipples

    • Front and rear tower sheaves and swivel blocks

    • Wing extension arm nipples

    • Front and rear tower guide tracks

    • All front harness pivot points

    • Check for loose or missing fasteners (nuts, bolts, cotter pins, lock rings, etc.)

  • Follow lubrication procedures for the Tow Plow and accessory equipment, such as spreaders

  • Refer to the owner’s manual for specific intervals

Hydraulic set up
Hydraulic Set-up

  • Check hydraulic set-up prior to use

    • System pressure should be 2300 psi

    • Set hydraulic trims/flow for steering and mold board operation

  • Ensure that Tow Plow response is:

    • Consistent

    • Smooth

    • Not too slow (may reduce reaction time for obstacles)

    • Not too fast (could cause handling issues and damage)

    • Include operator to ensure response is adequate to the operators preference and needs


  • Standard Configuration

    • Connection of hydraulics and liquid chemicals for spreaders and liquid tanks may vary

    • Refer to your experienced Tow Plow operator or District General Services for additional requirements

  • Attach Tow Plow to tow vehicle pintle hitch

  • Pintle receiver locked

  • Raise landing gear into full up position and handle stored in tow position

  • Air brake lines/glad hands connected (no leaks)

  • Connect Tow Plow safety chains

  • Connect plow lift hydraulic circuit

  • Connect steering hydraulic circuit

  • 7 wire trailer plug installed and all Tow Plow lights operational

  • 6 wire plug installed and all operator lights are operational

  • Inspect all lighting for damage and proper operation

Operational preparation
Operational Preparation

  • Ensure brakes are released and not frozen

    • Gently pull against the Tow Plow with brakes released to ensure brakes are not frozen

  • Remove mold board lock pins

    • Stand behind mold board

    • Start at center pins working out

  • Installing mold board lock pins

    • Install for transport or when deployment is not required for extended duration

    • Stand behind mold board

    • Start with outside pins and work to center

Operational check
Operational Check

  • Perform operational check prior to leaving maintenance facility

  • Steering (deployment and retraction)

    • Steering wheels move freely through full stroke of activating cylinder while moving forward

  • Mold board (up and down)

    • Determine that the mold board moves freely from full up to full down

Deployment retraction
Deployment / Retraction

  • Visually check to ensure that the Tow Plow is clear of traffic


  • Do not deploy or retract while stopped to prevent damage to the Tow Plow’s tires

  • Full deployment is not required to operate

    • Deploy to any desired position

    • Always deploy to a position that will clear all obstacles

    • Deployment (steering) and mold board functions (up and down) can be performed at the same time if desired

Low visibility
Low Visibility

  • Always retract the Tow Plow in low visibility conditions

  • Always have plenty of sight distance

  • Give yourself time to react and retract the Tow Plow for:

    • Stalled/stopped vehicles

    • Pedestrians

    • Roadway hazards

    • Obstacles

    • Guard rails, bridge ends and signs

  • When in doubt, pull in the Tow Plow


  • Use Tow Plow deployment to “steer” while negotiating tight turns

    • Left turns with right hand Tow Plows

    • Right turns with left hand Tow Plows

  • Avoid turns that require you to stop and back up

  • If retracted to tow position during turns, raise the mold board

  • Can be left in deployed position with mold board down and adjusted for obstacles to clear larger intersections

Pre trip inspection
Pre-trip Inspection

  • Before each use:

    • Make sure that all nuts and bolts are in place and properly tightened

    • Make sure that all other fasteners are in place and are performing their specified function

    • Make sure all safety signs are in place, clean, and legible

    • Replace any damaged parts or excessively worn parts

    • Inspect for damage to any part of the plow mold board or push frame

      • Examples include broken or worn bolts or pins, cracked welds, bent sections, and/or excessive rusting

    • Inspect for damage to trip mechanisms, such as broken springs, cracked welds, and worn or broken bolts

    • Check all hoses for cuts, cracks, and leaks

    • Dump air from air brake reservoir to remove any moisture

Plowing operations
Plowing Operations

  • Always try to position the Tow Plow in lanes that keep the plow farthest away from obstacles, such as guardrails, signs, etc.

  • Position the Tow Plow based on type of operation and configuration of the plows

    • Single operation

      • Plow two lanes as best as possible

      • Plow center turn lanes

    • Gang operation

      • Have enough plows to cover shoulder to shoulder

      • Utilize single plow trucks for clearing shoulders and ramps

      • Have single plow run shoulders next to guard rails

Gang plowing
Gang Plowing

  • Try to position the crown of the road between the tow vehicle and the Tow Plow

  • For clearing first priority (high volume) routes, operational speeds should be within the following:

    • Safe for conditions present

    • Safe for traffic volume and conditions

    • Reduce spacing appropriately for limited visibility

    • Paced so that multiple gang trucks do not become separated

    • Spaced so that traffic may not pass between the gang plows

Starting operations with a gang
Starting Operations with a Gang

  • Communication is key

    • Ensure all operators know the procedures to be used

    • Ensure that all operators know their position in the gang

    • Enter traffic at speeds that are safe and allow the gang to stay together

Plowing operations1
Plowing Operations

  • Plowing heavy snow loads may require adjusting plow / truck position

    • Snow loads may suddenly decrease and allow the plow to skew back to it original position, such as clearing snow under bridges and overpasses

    • Tow may strike guardrail and other roadside devices when it returns to its normal position after the heavy snow load is released

  • Plowing aggregate shoulders

    • Raise mold board 2” to 4” above ground

Emergency stopping
Emergency Stopping

  • Maintain a safe distance from traffic in front of you

  • The Tow Plow is equipped with ABS braking system

  • Brake as you normally would

  • The procedure for stopping a trailer skid is:

    • Recognize the trailer skid by seeing it in your mirrors

    • Check mirrors anytime you brake hard to make sure the trailer is staying where it should be

    • Once the trailer swings out of your lane it is hard to prevent a jackknife

    • Stop using the brakes to get traction back

    • Do not use the hand brake (this will cause the trailer to continue to skid)

    • Once the wheels start to grip the road again, the trailer will start to straighten out and follow the tow vehicle

    • If the Tow Plow is deployed during a skid, leave in the deployed position


  • There are two groups of lighting on the Tow Plow:

    • Work/warning

    • Operational (DOT)

  • Tow Plow lighting is connected to the truck via two separate trailer plugs:

    • 7 wire large plug for DOT vehicle lights

    • 6 wire plug for work and warning lights

Laser guidance
Laser Guidance

  • Lasers can be used to determine Tow Plow position in relation to roadside obstacles

    • Can be helpful to determine Tow Plow position when fully extended

    • Mounted to the truck

    • Only represents full Tow Plow extension

Tow plow inspection
Tow Plow Inspection

  • Used to assist operator in Tow Plow inspections

    • Use to pre-trip

    • Can be used for pre-storm inspections

Dry run check list
Dry-Run Check List

  • Performed pre-season

    • Dry-Run

    • Allows operator to become familiar with the Tow Plow

    • Identify hazards

    • Identify turnaround points

    • Discuss and plan plowing procedures

Closed driving maneuvers
Closed Driving Maneuvers

  • Provides several plowing scenarios including but not limited to

    • Ramps

    • Stalled vehicles

    • Barriers

    • Curves

  • Include additional maneuvers as needed