Snowplow Driver Shortage: What Can Be Done to Help Improve

Snowplow driver shortage? Yes, in the past few years the lack of snowplow drivers has been quite apparent, with several states needing to step up their recruiting, training and retention strategies regarding this shortage.

Recently, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials put out a survey and within those results, 84% of respondents said they were experiencing higher than normal vacancy rates among snowplow drivers, Freightwaves reports.

States that need improvement on their snowplow driver shortages

This past year, Montana was missing half of their temporary drivers. In Pennsylvania, the Department of Transportation only hired 40% of its usual seasonal workers, and in Kansas City, Missouri several transportation officials had to quickly find ways to onboard new drivers in an attempt to fill a 30% gap in the workforce, reported Freightwaves. Washington was short 140 staff of it’s usual 1,500 person operation.

One of the main reasons for these shortages is more people are going to higher paying private sector jobs, or jobs that don’t require a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License) – something that is required in order to drive a snowplow. According to Insider, the starting salary for state-highway maintenance workers rangers from nearly $19/hr to $28/hr, and the state’s seasonal CDL operator positions range from $18/hr to $20/hr, which may not be a livable wage for some. However, drivers with their own commercial vehicles will most likely make the most during the winter season.

Colorado has especially seen a decrease in snow plow drivers and one resource, John Lorme, Director of Maintenance and Operations for the Colorado Department of Transportation told Freightwaves that he has been seeing fewer applicants interviewing, and even less with minimum qualifications – which is why they are focusing on retaining drivers over recruiting. One thing the CDOT is doing to recruit drivers is attending job fairs at junior colleges because they offer tuition reimbursement programs, as well as technical school to get mechanics because they also are able to plow snow, Lorme continues.

What is being done to help improve this shortage?

The biggest thing companies are doing to help improve this shortage is to retain their drivers, especially throughout the summer months. Many states throughout the country are increasing wages (up to $310/hour), and offering “snow bonuses” of $2,000, Insider reports. These incentives are to help retain their drivers and keep them away from private companies that are offering higher-paying delivery and trucking jobs.

Something that the Colorado Department of Transportation has implemented is a “boot camp” of sorts. This includes a month of CDL training, followed by 30 days of training in the classroom and the CDOT maintenance academy, and on-the-job training with a mentor, reports Freightwaves. So, at the end of the 60 days, they are an official maintenance operator.

Plowing Ahead

Retaining, recruiting, retaining, recruiting. Two of the biggest things companies are focusing on when it comes to fixing the snowplow driver shortage. Whether that’s providing additional incentives like bonuses and increasing wages to help retain drivers. Or getting out to various job/career fairs or implementing different strategies to help incentive and recruit drivers. Companies all over are aware of the snowplow driver shortage at hand and are continuing to do what they can to help improve it.

If you have any questions or comments regarding this topics or anything else industry related, please contact our team today!

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