While most people try to avoid snowy roads, there's one group who heads right out in it. Colorado Department of Transportation workers work around the clock to make sure the roads are safe for drivers.
Plow drivers put in anywhere from 12-14 hour shifts per person. In the Grand Junction area, 43 crew members with 57 pieces of equipment are responsible for covering 1,518 total lane miles.
"The biggest challenge is the traffic and trying to get it plowed and in safe conditions for the traveling public," said Ken Anderson, a CDOT driver on the Grand Mesa. "On the interstate they'll try to pass us on the right hand side of our plows which is very unsafe because we're throwing out a rooster tail and if they go by it, it's enough force sometimes to knock them around a little bit."
Anderson, who's been plowing for nine years, said he enjoys his job for the challenges it presents.
"If we keep from having any cars slide off, I feel good about that... it means we've been doing our job," he said.
Last year, Grand Junction area crews put in 2,440 hours of snow removal and 415 hours of avalanche control work. They plowed about 200,000 lane miles.
CDOT offers the following tips for safe driving during the winter:
- check CDOT's website, www.coloradodot.info/travel/winter-driving, or call 511 for tips, road conditions and information about snow plow coverage
- keep the top half of your gas tank full to get better traction and prepare in case you get stuck in the snow
- run your car periodically if you get stuck in a serious storm. Do not leave your car
- carry emergency essentials, such as blankets, water, flashlight, shovel and dry foods in your car in case you get stuck
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