OLATHE, Kan. — With a second round of snow on its way, the Kansas Department of Transportation is asking drivers to be safe on the road, because this time getting highways clear may take a little longer.
KDOT said in the past few days they’ve seen significant damage to plows, due to accidents with cars, and even a semi. Maintenance Supervisor, Drake Jennings says those are the last kind of calls he wants to get.
“I don’t like receiving those type of calls,” Jennings said. “It scares me. It scares my drivers.”
Jennings says it’s bad enough they are understaffed, but now they are seeing damage to their fleet. In this next snowstorm they will be down one plow, and working with two other damaged trucks. Jennings says one of their plows was hit by a large truck that slid, went over, and hit a wing plow so badly that it will have to be thrown away. Thankfully, no one was hurt in the crash.
“I had three trucks yesterday get hit,” Jennings said. “The wing plow portion of the trucks got hit. One truck got hit twice in the same day. They’re trying to pass us, they’re trying to go around us while we’re pushing the snow. They’re trying to drive through that snow which never works out good for them. They lose control and they end up hitting our wing plows and damaging our wing plows.”
Jennings says each time a wing plow is replaced it costs their department nearly two thousand dollars, but the money is nothing in comparison to safety. What really frightens him is when his employees and drivers are in danger.
“If you see one of our trucks if you would just stay back and give us room to work,” Jennings said. “Follow us. The best place to be during a snowstorm and on the highway is behind one of our trucks. Just stay behind us. Give us room to work, give us plenty of space, and don’t pass us. Try not to pass us.”
He says the easier it is for plow drivers to do their job, the faster the roads will be back to normal.
“So, that truck is sitting idle on the shoulder for hours, hour and a half you know, so it just means their section of highway that they’re highway that they’re plowing, or responsible for, nothing’s getting taken care of on that,” Jennings said. “So, it just keeps building up, and building up, and building up.”
Jennings says it’s good to stay back around 100 feet from plows, and go slowly. A longer drive is worth it, but the risk of a crash is not.
“Just slow down, give us room to work, give us time, and space. Let us do our jobs and you will be able to get to your destination safely,” Jennings said.
Jennings says currently they are down around 17 plow drivers, and encourages people interested in working with KDOT to view their open positions here.