By Marielle Mohs

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — When you’re in the driver seat of a snow plow, snow isn’t even your biggest concern.

“So, it’s going to be a slow ride, but it’s going to be pretty good,” Clyde Johnson said.

It’s learning how to maneuver a big truck.

“It’s a real beast. There’s a lot of mechanics all around this truck,” Johnson said.

Without snow, Johnson is learning how to maneuver the truck between cones, which would mimic real-life obstacles like mailboxes and light posts, and learning to lift the side blade over cones along the training route.

SPOT, or snow plow operations training, takes place at Camp Ripley in Little Falls. MnDOT has been doing snow plow training at this location for the last 16 years because it’s centrally located and there’s plenty of practice room.

“They have the space, as far as non-public roads, that we can start out people as they gain skill and proficiency,” MnDOT training coordinator Rick Shomoin said.

Drivers are also tested on knowledge of the vehicle so they’re able to give daily inspections of each plow before it goes out on the roads. They learn how to navigate every aspect of their vehicle so that they can navigate us safely home.

“Before I drove trucks, the first thing I used to do is, there’s a plow truck, I’m safe. I’m going to follow him, he’s going to get me home safe, so I’m doing that now,” Johnson said.

Drivers went through this training program and come the first snowfall of the season, 1,800 full- and part-time employees will be ready to hit the roads as snow plow operators.

Marielle Mohs