UDOT plow operators and their families talk safety ahead of next winter storm

Dec 19, 2019, 4:30 PM | Updated: 4:32 pm
plow operators...
Sara Johnston and her daughter, Cadence Tripp, stressed the importance of drivers helping to keep snow plow operators safe. Photo: Mary Richards, KSL

COTTONWOOD HEIGHTS, Utah — The next snowstorm to hit the Wasatch Front could arrive as soon as next week, and plow operators and their families are hoping to send a message to drivers.

Alisha Hall’s husband, Robert, is a station foreman with the Utah Department of Transportation. She worries about him but also about other drivers who may not know how dangerous it can be to get in the way of his plow.

“It gets a little scary, more so to think he could hurt someone else. He’s in a tank,” Alisha Hall said. “It’s more safe to drive behind him. They don’t just pick up snow, they pick up everything.”

Crews loaded up salt for snowplow operators ahead of an expected Christmas snowstorm. Photo: Mary Richards, KSL The plow operators are stocked up on salt for the roads ahead of the next forecast snowstorm. Photo: Mary Richards, KSL UDOT's snowplows use "red" salt to help keep roads clear of snow and ice. Photo: Mary Richards, KSL

During an intense winter snowstorm, the Halls say Robert may be out plowing for 16-hour shifts. In the past 10 years, he’s missed nine Christmases because of his work.

Sara Johnston and her husband are both plow operators. She expects to spend her Christmas on the road.

plow operators

Photo: Mary Richards, KSL

“Everyone wants a white Christmas, but we want black roads,” Johnston said. “I’ll be out plowing, and the kids will be waiting for us to get home.”

Johnston says the scariest thing she sees is when drivers try to pass her plow on the right. Or worse – when they zip between the row of big plows working to clear lanes of traffic.

“When we are out there together, we are one. We are one plow,” she explained. “Don’t go in between us.”

Robert Hall agreed it can be frightening.

“The scariest thing is when people pass on our right side and we end up hitting them. They also hit in the back. Semis will run over our wings,” he said.


The best advice from UDOT: slow down, stay back and don’t try to pass the plows. It means everyone will make it home safely for Christmas.



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UDOT plow operators and their families talk safety ahead of next winter storm