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Plow operators work to keep roads safe - KXLH.com | Helena, Montana

Plow operators work to keep roads safe

Posted: Dec 29, 2017 5:38 PM Updated:

Matt Komac has been driving snowplows for the Montana Department of Transportation for 18 years.

He says it’s a job that requires a lot of flexibility.

“We’re kind of on a little bit of a standby-type situation. When it gets nasty out and we need to get out there, we come out.”

“MDT’s Helena section currently has about nine plows like this one out on the road. Operators will be working 12-hour shifts, 24 hours a day, for as long as the snow keeps falling.”

Plow drivers have been dealing with fairly constant snowfall, and strong winds in some areas.

But Komac says there have been positive signs as well.

“It’s actually snow, it doesn’t have a lot of moisture in it, so we’re not dealing with the ice that we have in the last few storms.”

Plows are designed to clear a lane of travel in one pass.

On the interstate, they’re often focusing on the left, passing lane.

Komac says the conditions can be a particular challenge for plow operators.

“A lot of people think that we have better visibility than them, not so much. We get the snow coming over the top of the plow, and so our visibility can be a lot worse than what the normal driving public is.”

He also warns drivers to be especially careful not to follow plows too closely.

“The fastest they want us to drive it with the plow in the air is 45, and when we’re plowing, the fastest you want to drive it is 35. People on the interstate are doing 80 miles an hour, they don’t realize we’re going as slow as we are, and, boom, they run into the back of us.”

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