INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – With winter around the corner, the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) showed 24-Hour News 8 its new equipment and let us get behind the wheel of a plow.
INDOT officials said on Friday they’re ready for the snow.
“We’ve got our stock piles,” INDOT spokesperson Nathan Riggs said. “We’ve got our salt supplies ready. Safety training is underway.”
One way they’re tackling the elements this year is a new truck that swings, allowing crews to make a safer driving surface.
“It’s clearing and treating both lanes at the same time, so motorists who might be changing lanes will have an easier adjustment from one lane to the next,” Riggs said.
INDOT is busy during winter months. IN 2014, 285,000 tons of salt was spread.
Last year, more than 5 million gallons of salt brine was used, and its trucks logged 5.7 million miles, which is the equivalent of 12 round trips to the moon.
Driving the snow plows isn’t easy. To see how hard it can be, INDOT let 24-Hour News 8’s Nick Natario behind the wheel.
Crews set up a training course, where Natario used the plow to knock over cones and avoid barrels. While the INDOT driver said Natario passed, it’s a lot harder, he said, doing the motions in the elements.
“It takes quite a bit to get used it,” INDOT driver Brandon McKiney said.
While they might get new trucks or even new staff to train, one thing remains the same each year. INDOT officials say when their drivers look out the mirror, more than likely they can find motorists tailgating behind them, which can create big issues.
“Pack your patience if you’re driving in winter weather,” Riggs said. “And don’t crowd us. Give us plenty of room. We’re trying to make these roads safer for your drive during these winter conditions.”
Clearing the snow takes a lot of time. INDOT crews spent more than 300,000 hours driving last season.
And, of course, it isn’t cheap. Last year, clean up cost $40 million.