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Behind the scenes with a MnDOT snowplow driver

Jaclyn Harold
Created: January 17, 2020 11:05 PM

(ABC 6 News) - We see the snowplows clearing and treating the roads, but as the first big snowfall of the season hit southeastern Minnesota, we got to see what the storm looks like behind the scenes of a plow driver.

MnDOT releases regular tips about how to safely share the roads with their workers, as we traveled from 55th Street and up Highway 63, roads were covered with inches of snow. 

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"It's not bad. I think it's going to get worse before it gets better, just because I know the winds are going to be picking up. They're going to be gusting up in the near 40 miles an hour range and that's going to make it really difficult for us," said John Lutzi, who has been a snowplow driver for 10 years.

When Lutzi and the rest of the first shift started plowing they grouped up and performed a technique called gang plowing. With several plows covering every lane of the highway, the method helped clear each lane at once, which Lutzi says they try to do before rush hour.

With the heavy winds associated with this storm, as the plows moved the snow, the wind carried it, creating poor visibility for MnDOT workers, and anyone behind them.

One of the many tips that officials encourage drivers to remember is keeping a safe distance, but also turning on your headlights-even during the day.

"We always have to watch out for the other guy. It's not so much us that we have to watch out for, it's the other guy," said Lutzi.

The suggested distance is 10 car lengths behind a plow, and not to try to pass too many plows at one time, but according to Lutzi, sometimes there's an exception.

"If it's an operation where we're trying to clear all the driving lanes then yes you should not be trying to pass us, but they have to be able to sense where we are as far as the road, and what lanes we are trying to accomplish with cleaning and if we can give them an open lane which we try to sometimes, but sometimes we can't we just have to take all of them to do the job," he said.

During a storm like this one with several inches of snow on the ground, along with poor visibility conditions, you're advised to just stay home. However if you must travel officials say turn on your headlights and give them their space.


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