Winter Storm Preps: Snow Plow Drivers

By Kelly McCarthy

December 26, 2012 Updated Dec 26, 2012 at 9:30 PM EDT

(WBNG Binghamton) Binghamton, NY (WBNG Binghamton) During heavy snow and bad weather it's usually a good idea to avoid driving altogether.

It's snow plow drivers that don't get a break when the roads get bad.

Wednesday afternoon they were preparing for the storm expected to hit that night.

They were getting ready for a long night ahead.

"As long as it's snowing, they will be out there, and after it stops snowing, they will also be out there," said Dave Hamburg, NYS Department of Transportation, Region 9.

Before the plows hit the road the drivers are checking lights and filling the up trucks with up to 30 tons of salt.

Once they get out there it's non-stop plowing.

'If it's really snowing out there that's your turn around, you're going to come in get your salt, run over here get a drink maybe go to the restroom, but other than that no break, no dinner, no nothing, you just go," said Venley McGregor, DOT highway maintenance.

They want other drivers to keep a few things in mind. Snow plows take it slow for a reason.

"The plows are going to be out there and you will encounter , they will be traveling no more than 30-35 miles per hour, stay far enough behind them so you can see their side mirrors," said Hamburg.

Passing a snow plow is not a good idea because their side mirrors are the only view they have of what is behind them. So passing a snow plow is not a good idea.

"They go by you so fast, they'll pass us on the left, they'll pass us on the right, you don't even have time to see what kind of car it is," said McGregor.

"The people that are out there to keep you safe are also in harms way and if it's possible that they could be the only ones out on the road, that would be good," said Hamburg.

Each driver has an assigned route that takes about three hours to go through once.

And once they finish it's back to the start.

"They take great pride in their route, in keeping their roadways as clean as possible and as safe as possible for the people traveling around them," said Hamburg.

The Department of Transportation is prepared to start "24 hour mode" tonight if weather gets bad.

That means they'll extend the 8 hour shifts to 12 hours and have snow plows clearing roads continuously through the night.