A national shortage of licensed truck drivers means fewer snow plows on the roads this winter.
Maria Casteneda of the Illinois Department of Transportation said staffing levels for the winter response team have been down approximately 10-15% since the start of the pandemic. IDOT has openings for both full and part-time snow plow drivers.
IDOT is committed to staying outside working until the roads are clear. It just might take a little longer with fewer trucks, Casteneda said.
Motorists can do their part by staying home if they don’t need to be out driving. If you have to go out, be patient and give the plows plenty of room to work.
“Even with a car that handles really well in the snow, driving through it is one thing. But you need to be able to stop if you have to,” Casteneda said.
Enjoy the newly plowed road behind the plow instead of being in a rush to get out and pass the truck, she said.
It is hard for snow plow drivers to see vehicles that are trying to pass them.
“The driver’s side vision is a lot more restrictive than ours,” Casteneda said.
When trucks get hit, IDOT has to take them off the system.
“That’s one less truck out there plowing snow,” Casteneda said.
Routine trips take longer in the winter, Casteneda said. Resign yourself to needing more time to get where you are going.
“You don’t have to drive like a grandma, but flying along is risky when the roads get even a little wet,” Casteneda said.
A single disabled vehicle can cause serious traffic tie-ups and significant delays, she said.
Motorists whose vehicles break down should stay in their cars and dial 911 or *999 if they are in the greater Chicago area.
Illinois Transportation Secretary Omer Osman reminds drivers to move over when they see an accident to give troopers and emergency vehicles plenty of room. Troopers and emergency responders are risking their lives whenever they stop and assist stranded drivers, Osman said.
This winter, IDOT will have more than 1,800 trucks available for deployment in snowstorms.
They will plow more than 17,000 centerline miles of roads statewide, the equivalent of driving back and forth between New York City and Los Angeles three times. Salt domes are at capacity, with more than 558,190 tons on hand to treat the roads.