Snowplow drivers test winter driving skills
October 11. 2012 8:55AM
While drivers across the state are packing their winter travel survival kits and getting their vehicles in top shape, the men and women of the South Dakota Department of Transportation are preparing for the upcoming winter season by way of a little friendly competition.
On Tuesday, Oct. 10, snowplow drivers for the SDDOT took turns driving through an obstacle course as part of the state Snowfighter’s ROADeo in Pierre.
In the competition, drivers maneuvered the plows around obstacles that simulated parked cars, sharp turns and other real-world situations. The winner was determined by the total points earned for completing the obstacle course as well as a timed truck inspection to find four pre-determined deficiencies.
This year’s title went to John Huber from the Menno shop, Unit 292 in the Yankton Area. Second place went to Jay Boldt, Isabel shop, Unit 372 in the Mobridge Area and third place was awarded to Chad Hintz, Selby shop, Unit 371 in the Pierre Area.
A Snowfighter ROADeo was held in each of the four regions earlier this fall. The top drivers then went to Pierre to compete for the state title. The ROADeos also include training sessions and safety classes, from properly loading a truck to equipment inspection, to employee health screenings.
As winter months approach, the state Transportation Department reminds drivers to be aware of snowplows on the road and giving them plenty of room to operate.
“The plows are providing an important public service and are clearing the roads as quickly as possible,” said Darin Bergquist, SDDOT secretary. “For the safety of the public and our drivers, please don’t crowd the plow.”
Bergquist said plows travel about 25 mph and drivers should be patient if they find themselves behind one.
Snowplow operators need to concentrate on their task and the road conditions in front of them, so they may not spot a vehicle trying to pass,” he said. “Blowing snow around the trucks may reduce visibility, so drivers shouldn’t pass unless they can be sure the oncoming roadway is clear of vehicles and drifts.”
Bergquist also reminds drivers to check road conditions before heading out. Road conditions, weather reports and forecasts are available online by visiting www.safetravelusa.com/sd or by dialing 511.