By John Ostapkovich
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – We’re still awaiting the first major snow of the coming winter but PennDOT’s new plow drivers have already experienced virtually everything the season has to offer.
When the folks who drive the plow trucks join PennDOT, they get hands-on training at Ft. Indiantown Gap. Part of it, says PennDOT spokesman Gene Blaum, is in a video simulator.
“There’s a bucket seat. You’ve got the dashboard, the shift, the brake, the accelerator, all the devices that you would find in a PennDOT snow truck. The device can be programmed so the operator is dealing with all different types of weather conditions and roadway conditions, whether you’re driving in the city or suburban or rural roadways, two-lanes roads, four-lane road, expressways.”
Blaum says the simulator aims for realism.
“It you’re sitting in the seat, you will feel the bumps in the pavement, you see the snowplow in front of you, vehicles in front and passing you, so it really gives a real-life feel for operating that machine. The training’s two weeks. They’re on it for a half-hour to an hour a day.”
Blaum says it’s only PennDOT newbies who get this kind of training. After that, it’s likely that Mother Nature helps keep those skills sharp.