Weather Alert

Snowplow drivers get virtual training before attacking snow

DES MOINES — Iowa snowplow drivers got some virtual training again this year before hitting the state highways for recent snowstorms.

DOT Winter Operations Administrator Craig Bragefrede says the pandemic did require some adjustment in the training.  He says they completed their training the week before Christmas and had to cut back the class sizes for those training in the simulator.

Bargfrede says the plow operators say the simulator experience is helpful. “Feedback we get from our operators is that is such a realistic training opportunity and it gives them a chance to practice their safe driving habits…it’s a closed environment so they are not out on the highway and in amongst other traffic,” according to Bargfrede.

Bargfrede says they so far have been able to have enough people to do the job. “We have a number of seasonal employees that we utilize to augment our full-time staff. We’re just crossing our fingers hoping that we don’t run into a time period where we have back-to-back-to-back storms. Even in a normal year, those events can tax staffing levels,” Bargfrede says.

The state has an arsenal of 902 trucks, 42 motor graders, 27 tow plows, and 11 heavy-duty, self-propelled snowblowers to attack the winter weather on the state roadways.

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