Kudos to snowplow drivers for clearing the way to safety

Snowplow drivers work long hours — and often overnight — to keep us safe by clearing our roads and highways. They deserve our thanks and appreciation! 

Photo of a snowplow plowing snow on the road in winter

Photo credit: Mainroad

While we may not see snow often in Metro Vancouver, much of the rest of the province sees snow regularly, and we should be prepared for ice and snow on our roads. From October 1 to April 30, commercial drivers need to carry chains (or other traction devices) on certain highways. As we roll towards snowy weather, I’d like to take some time to recognize snowplow drivers for all their hard work.

Regardless of where in B.C. you are, whenever there is a snowfall or “storm event,” the demand for snow removal services goes into high gear. While most of us sleep, workers are outside driving snowplows in adverse conditions, working 12-hour shifts.

“We’re most effective in the middle of the night or in the afternoon when the traffic is off the road,” says Bob Nielsen, Director of Corporate Compliance for the Mainroad Group. “If we’re stuck in traffic, nothing’s going to get cleared. The road just gets progressively worse until the traffic itself clears, and that’s when we can get back to work on the roads.”

Bob adds that snowplow drivers tend to live in the communities where they work and have a vested interest in making sure roads are clear and safe. “Most of the operators love doing what they’re doing because they feel like they’re contributing a great deal to their neighbours and their community,” he says.

Pre-season training helps drivers stay safe

Every year, Mainroad workers have a pre-season safety training day that includes a written and practical exam.

During the training, snowplow drivers review things like how to adjust the height and angle of the snowplows and how to apply the right amount of de-icing materials at the right rate. They’re also reminded of safe work procedures like how to do pre-shift safety inspections and the importance of using three points of contact when entering and exiting their vehicles.

Says Bob: “It doesn’t matter how seasoned a driver you are, you have to get yourself reacquainted with all the equipment and the environment.”

If you’re a driver, please remember that plows make frequent stops. Slow down, proceed with caution, and never pass a snowplow on the right hand side. It discharges snow on the right side so pass on the left side, only when it’s safe and legal to do so.

For more information about winter driving, take a look at the blog post I wrote in 2018, Proper planning and practice key for winter tires and chains and Mainroad’s Snowplow Safety Tips | Give time and space to the vehicles at work for you.

For answers to winter highway maintenance questions, see Your Most Popular BC Winter Maintenance Questions, Answered from TranBC.

Thanks to Bob for answering all my questions — and thanks to all snowplow drivers for their hard work and dedication.

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