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UDOT gearing up for winter

By KSL.com | Posted - Nov. 10, 2010 at 11:30 a.m.


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SALT LAKE CITY -- Now that the winter driving season has arrived, UDOT is reminding drivers to be careful while driving near snowplows.

A fleet of nearly 500 snowplow trucks statewide is being prepped. Every year UDOT crews remove approximately 65 million tons of snow and ice from the roads.

The snowplow drivers are ready to hit the roads this winter. Each year 50 to 100 plow drivers train for every scenario from heavy snow and fog, to a bad driver driving too close to their plow. They even have new technology to help them be more efficient and save money.

But they also need drivers to do their part so everyone stays safe.

UDOT quick facts
  • UDOT's snow team includes 503 full-time plow drivers
  • 499 snowplow trucks, 11 self-propelled snowblowers and 4 TowPlows statewide
  • Snow crews are responsible for clearing and maintaining more than 18,000 lane miles of roadway

With 15 years of experience driving a snow plow, Kevon Ogden knows what to expect when he hits the road. "There are a lot of blind spots, especially when we have blowing snow," he says.

It's Ogden's job to supervise the drivers and roads in Parley's Canyon. But it's also his job to make sure those drivers are well trained, well rested and make good decisions.

That's where UDOT's driver simulation training comes in.

"We can make it rain, snow, we can make it so icy that the driver can't stay on the road," says Byron Strong, international sales manager for MPRI.

For the past eight years, UDOT has paved the way nationwide in snow-plow simulation training.

"The key to success is helping the driver make a better decision," says Strong. "If we can help that driver make a good decision, it's going to reduce accidents. They're going to shift properly, save their company fuel."

KSL NewsRadio's Randall Jeppesen took a turn in the simulator and didn't quite make the cut, "I actually hit two cars, because I didn't see them coming."

Simulator training has helped UDOT save more than 20,000 gallons of fuel each year. With Ground speed controllers and GPS tracking devices, it's also saving $500,000 in maintenance and over $300,000 in salt.

This year UDOT has added two more TowPlows to their fleet, which can plow up to three lanes at once -- saving both time and money.

"We've got the TowPlows that we're implementing," says safety trainer Curtis Sanchez. "MPRI is building a training program for that, so we can get our TowPlows out because that's a whole new animal."

With two new trucks in play, Ogden says he and the other plow drivers are ready to hit the road. He just asks that as they do, other drivers be cautious.

"We're out there doing a job, trying to make the roads as safe as possible," he says. "The more room you give us, the safer it will be."

UDOT says it tracks each storm from beginning to end and is prepared to put plows on the road at anytime.

Story compiled with contributions from Shara Park and Randall Jeppesen.

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