No snow on the ground yet, but check out how some DOT plow drivers are making sure they are ready for the fresh powder
RAPID CITY, S.D.– When the snow falls in Rapid City and anywhere across the state of South Dakota, snow plow drivers head out in full force to make sure roads and other heavily-driven areas are cleared. But before that time, drivers and state department of transportation officials got in some fun as they prepare for winter.
What is the Snow Fighter Roadeo?
The Snow Fighter Rodeo is a friendly competition held between hundreds of drivers to learn and apply their skills behind the wheel of a plow to prepare for what can sometimes be a long winter. “We are not going to be able to replicate the winter conditions,” Director of Operations for the South Dakota Department of Transportation Craig Smith said. “But it really does put us in that winter mindset.”
What do the drivers do?
For the competition, drivers take on a course designed with day-to-day actions they would normally do while driving. Portions of the course included tasks such as parking the plow in between cones simulating parked cars and turning the plow in areas reminiscent of a cul-de-sac. “Different circumstances of what you may face plowing snow,” SDDOT Maintenance Worker and Plow Driver Julie Englehart said. “We also attend classes so that we are updated on the most current safety,” So that we are safe so that we can keep the public safe.” One of the toughest parts, she also mentioned, was the width of the course, which is not much wider than the plow and plow blade themselves.
Photos of DOT plow drivers getting ready for winter
How does the scoring work?
For each section of the course, each participant starts with a base set of points. For each cone or marker on the course they hit or move out of place, points are taken off of the score. Once all drivers have gone, totals are tallied up. For any ties that occur, judges look to see who completed the course the fastest.
What happens to the winners?
The drivers competing span four regions throughout the state. For each region, the top five drivers are selected to go to Pierre to compete in a final round, with the winner receiving a prize at the end.
Why is this important?
The Snow Fighter Roadeo is important not only for a fun and morale-boosting activity for employees, but also as a way for workers to share their experiences in the different regions regardless of skill level.
“We have got a lot of new drivers, a lot of drivers that have not gone through a truck roadeo like this,” Smith explained. “So it is a really great opportunity for them to interact and share what is going on in their part of the state and the competition part will bring us all together.”