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Snow plowing driver fatigue

Discussion in 'Commercial Snow Removal' started by RogerMcCoy, Feb 17, 2004.

  1. RogerMcCoy

    RogerMcCoy Junior Member
    Messages: 5

    Roger McCoy here from WBNS-TV in Columbus. I'm researching a report about driver fatigue for snow plow drivers in this area. Many of the state and local snow plow drivers will work 12-16 hour shifts for days/nights at a time when we get a big storm.
    We just had several city plow operators who were working 10 straight days averaging 10 hours a day or more.
    What impact does this have, if any, on driver fatigue? What are the trade-offs? What's safe and reasonable in your minds? Would appreciate your feedback.
  2. The Boss

    The Boss 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,099

    Even though I'm not from your area, I'll respond anyhow. The longest I ever plowed without any sleep was 42 hours straight. It takes alot to stay awake for that long. Plus getting cramped up from sitting in the truck is a big factor also. Even with all the times of getting out to stretch, eat dinner, bathroom breaks, etc., it still takes it's toll. But that's part of plowing snow. You take the good with the bad. The outcome in the end is well worth the lack of sleep and fatigue.:waving:
  3. GripTruk

    GripTruk Senior Member
    Messages: 374

    I haven't really had any marathons like the boss, but I do have a few accounts that are a 1/2 hour or so apart, and that drive can be rough. When I'm plowing I'm fine, but that travel time is very boring and monotonous, and sometimes I catch myself dozing and have to pull over.
    I think sometimes when you get tired you become more likely to make mistakes or get sloppy and careless or lazy, and that's when accidents happen.
    Sometimes it's tough to admit that your spent, and take a break, but it is much better than getting in an accident.

  4. Bolts Indus.

    Bolts Indus. PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,176

    Dicussing this topic can bring no good results for plow drivers. I have learned that what I say today comes back to haunt me tomorrow. FOOD FOR THOUGHT. Perhaps the moderator will see it my way.
  5. RogerMcCoy

    RogerMcCoy Junior Member
    Messages: 5

    Thanks for the feedback... Since you're the ones plowing the snow I wanted to get your professional opinions. Keep it coming!
  6. dfor

    dfor PlowSite.com Veteran
    Messages: 57

    I totally agree. Next thing you know the gov't will have us keeping a log in our pick-ups when we are plowing. I don't think so.
  7. 04superduty

    04superduty PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,354

    If any of you plowers out there have seen the way the news media will turn a story around you should not reply. By replying you will give him ammo for a upcoming story. The story wont be, "The people that plow in a storm and how hard they work." It will be more like "At times plow operators will stay up for 36 hrs straight and be a danger to society so we need more stringent laws to govern them." These laws will not allow them to work as much, so less $$, and will cost them $$ for the laws to be enacted. Just because he is acting like a friend doesn't mean a thing. So be warned, like Bolts said, be careful on what you say. :nono:
  8. Gadget

    Gadget Junior Member
    Messages: 29

    No good ever comes from these types of inquiries - and no investigative reporter ever tells you the real reason for the report - just surprises you when it is shown

    BEWARE !!!
  9. ratlover

    ratlover PlowSite.com Addict
    from IL
    Messages: 1,325

    I never plow for more than 8 hours in a day. I take a quick 15 minute break every few hours and my 1/2 hour lunch so that helps a bit fiting any fatigue. Also getting a good solid 8 hours sleep the night before helps a bunch. ;)

    The bottom line though is like anything there are responsible contractors that know when to say when and take naps or quick walks around the truck and those that give the rest of us a bad name by cutting corners any way possible. When I start to get fatigued I will start with the coffee and then move on to getting out of the truck for a few minutes to move around or get a bite to eat and then when I still cant maintain my alertness I will catch a quick nap or crash out in bed. Plowing when heavily fatigued is not a smart move for me since I have already high insurance that's required to plow and I don't want to do anything to give them a reason to raise it, I don't want to hurt myself or others, it compromises the high level of service that I strive to give to my customers. It annoys me to see any knee-jerk reaction to a situation that will only effect the people that are law abiding and doing the right thing to begin with. JMO
  10. cja1987

    cja1987 PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,407

    VERY true but the problem is he could search the site and find out what people don't tell him:nod:
  11. JMR

    JMR Senior Member
    Messages: 567

    If you want the real story of what it is like to be a snow plow operator, find one to ride along with. I don't mean for a couple of hours but a full shift. Snow for us comes only on average 7 times a year, so you got to get when it comes. 40 hour plow sessions for me are not uncommon. Yes, it's difficult. I usually don't have a problem staying awake, but I am totally drained mentally and physically after 40+ hours of plowing. It will usually take me 3-4 days to recover. If I had the luxury of only working 10 hours shifts and then resting it would probably be a piece of cake. Plowing streets for the city or state is probably much different than plowing commercial or residential properties. I'm sure a local snow removal contractor from this site would be glad to take you for a 40+ hour ride. Get the real story from the inside.
  12. thundercat99

    thundercat99 Senior Member
    Messages: 157

    plowing is a srevice industry when the snow falls contractors must be able to complete the tasks that they are suppose to do, regardless of the time it takes them do do it. A good contractor will try to keep safe working conditions for his crews but in a heavy snowfall long ours maybe recquired. Alot of us might have a backup list of people to relive the current employee in a long storm.. We appreciate your intrest in are field, we just are concerened about the implications of your reporting.
  13. jmassi

    jmassi Senior Member
    Messages: 154

    Call me crazy but I thought this site was for professional snowplowers, not news reporters....
  14. RogerMcCoy

    RogerMcCoy Junior Member
    Messages: 5

    I understand the mistrust some of you have expressed. I value your professional comments and I figured this would be the place to get honest feedback.
    If you want to see some of my reporting try this web site: http://www.wbns10tv.com/news/10investigates/

  15. CamLand

    CamLand Senior Member
    Messages: 301

    hey Roger,i remeber you when you were a reporter in Detroit,i think your best bet would to ride along with a county rig,they drive 8-16 hour shifts.depending of course on the size of the storm...
  16. crashz

    crashz Senior Member
    Messages: 256

    Mr. McCoy,

    There are a few things that you need to know here. This is coming from a former plow driver, so I have a good knowledge of what the business entails and also what the average person perceives. The professionals plowing our roads and parking lots have a lot at stake each time their plows hit the pavement. They pay huge insurance premiums, and invest large amounts of time and money into their equipment. Storms are few and sometimes far between, which means that each driver must be prepared to work at a moments notice, sometimes ruling out a 40hr/week job. These people depend on the weather and their equipment and cannot afford mistakes.

    Regardless of how many hours worked, the risk is always high for plow drivers, or for any driver that spends a lot of time on the road. Plow drivers though, have a skill that the average person does not. The vehicle is his tool, much like a computer to a programmer, or a paint brush to an artist. He is in much better control and knows the limits of his equipment better that the average person.

    Also look at their personalities. Most guys here are small business owners who demand nothing less than perfection. Their equipment is in top shape, they take pride in their services, and have a customer base that returns each year.

    As was suggested, sit with a driver or two for a few hours. You'll soon realize that the safest drivers on the road have a plow on the front of their trucks!
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2004
  17. 04superduty

    04superduty PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,354

    I read some of the stories for your site roger and still don't trust you. You are a member of the elite misinformation news media. As some of the members have pointed out, this is a site for people that plow. Unless they fit a plow on your news van, you shouldn't be poking around for a story that will just make us look bad. Call the local DOT office and arrange a ride along with them. See what it is like to plow for 12 hrs dealing with all the morons on the road. Mount some cameras in the truck so you can show your viewers what it is like. My resentment comes for watch the news when they blow up a little story into something huge because there is nothing else to report about. In the process they can ruin peoples lives and don't give a damn if they do. If your intentions are good, i hope you get a good story but i guess we wont know until you are finished.
  18. Mdirrigation

    Mdirrigation Senior Member
    Messages: 408

    Mr. McCoy, what about news reporter fatigue? When work a 8 hour day at the station , and breaking news comes in .

    . Many of the state and local NEWS REPORTERS will work 12-16 hour shifts for days/nights at a time when we get a big storm.
    We just had several city REPORTERS who were working 10 straight days averaging 10 hours a day or more.
    What impact does this have, if any, on REPORTER fatigue? What are the trade-offs? What's safe and reasonable in your minds.

    Have you ever worked 10 to 16 hours a day to meet deadline? How many hours a day did you work during 9/11 ?
    Do you think that this has any impact on your objectivity and the public safety when you leave the station and drive home?

    Or should plow drivers call it quits after 8 hours , when the roads to the hospital are still closed , the firemen and ambulance drivers cant get to work, the police are stuck home . Plow trucks , big and small are essential in clearing the roads , and parking lots
    so that essential services can be provided to the residents of the area. Fireman ,police man , doctors ,nurses etc and plow drivers
    do whats necessary so that every one elses lives can return to normal as soon as possible.

    Like someone else posted , go ride in a plow truck , or better yet drive one yourself . Nothing beats first hand experience. I am sure somebody in Columbus would gladly let you ride along with them from start to finish so you can realy see what goes on .
  19. Gadget

    Gadget Junior Member
    Messages: 29

    VERY true but the problem is he could search the site and find out what people don't tell him:nod:

    You are quite correct, however, in that way you won't feel like such an a$$ if you are quoted, misquoted, or even much worse and normal news reporting tactic - Taken out of Context !!
  20. Plow Meister

    Plow Meister PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,174

    County rigs are bound by DOT regulations as far as drivers are concerned. Plus, County rigs have only one gear... Forward. They are not constantly backing up, changing the blade position, getting out to shovel, dealing with angry customers, etc. It would be much better to ride with a truck that does commercial and residential accounts.