With recent announcements from county highway departments indicating that plow trucks were taken off the roads at a certain time, many people were left wondering why the road clearing operations are sometimes stopped in their tracks during a snowstorm, when they are most in need. According to Starke County EMA Director Ted Bombagetti, there is a reason for that, and state law plays a part.
Bombagetti said plow trucks in the county are responsible for about 95 miles; each driver, he said, is basically driving the distance from Knox to Warsaw and back, taking about six hours to do a single pass of their route. Blowing and drifting snow can greatly hinder their ability to clear the roads, causing them to be out, clearing the snow, for hours on end.
For that reason, Bombagetti said the Indiana Department of Transportation has set guidelines preventing drivers from operating their plows for more than 12 consecutive hours. After that, the trucks must be taken off the roads to allow the drivers to get some rest.
Drivers are under INDOT guidelines; can only drive for 12 continuous hours. After that, their policy is to take the trucks off the road so the drivers can get rest.
“It’s not safe to be out on the roads at night, plowing, it’s hard enough to see what you’re doing during the daytime, but you’re putting a truck at night in snow in white-out conditions, its just a recipe for disaster,” Bombagetti said.
Bombagetti said the county lost a plow truck in a white-out storm two years ago, and it took the county a year to replace that truck. If one truck gets stuck in the snow, Bombagetti said another truck has to be assigned to pull that truck out, causing two routes to be neglected.ned to pull that truck out.
“The main reason we go to the warning is, first off, it’s for everybody’s safety. Second of all, we don’t have the resources should an individual run into a problem, we can’t exercise a safety for them, and really, if they make the choice to drive in it, and they do get stuck, now we have to not only jeopardize our plow drivers but there’s a chance we have to put our first responders out on the road. So we’ve just added potential for more injuries,” Bombagetti said.
However, that doesn’t mean the roads are a no-man’s-land, even for emergency vehicles. Bombagetti said drivers are still on call in case an emergency vehicle needs to travel and get to a location quickly