In a province like Saskatchewan, where a personal vehicle is the most common way to get somewhere and often those can be long distances, the highway snow plow is essential in the winter months.
But it can also be a dangerous career choice.
“At the end of the day we want the public to get home safe, and we want to get home safe,” said Garrett Roberts.
Roberts has been a snow plow driver for nine years, and when he heads out on the job, there’s a wife and two kids waiting for him at home.
Roberts said it’s never safe to pass a snow plow when the blue and amber lights are flashing and the plow is down, creating a mini-blizzard around the vehicle.
When it is okay to pass, the speed limit is just 60 km/h.
However, not everyone abides by those restrictions, as Roberts can attest.
“I’ve had many time people pass in the snow zone and that actually whites us out, and we can’t see as operators and it gets quite dangerous … You’ll be plowing and vehicle will go through that white-out and then spin out in front of you, and we can’t stop because we’ve got traffic behind us.”
Roberts said he’s gotten used to the danger of the job and now just tries to do it as safely as he can.
The blue and amber lights were a new addition to the trucks last year and Highways Minister David Marit said he thinks they’ve been a big help.
“I drive around the province quite a bit, and to see the blue and amber light, then you know it’s a plow, I think that’s probably the big significant thing that it’s done,” said Marit.
In the past five years there have been 33 incidents involving snow plows, and one already this year.