Dakotas Snowplow Naming Contests in Full Swing

Snowplow naming contests are in full swing in both North and South Dakota this month. The North Dakota Department of Transportation said state residents can help name a snowplow via its 2023 ‘Name-A-Plow’ Contest through November 20. Meanwhile, the South Dakota Department of Transportation is accepting entries to its fourth annual snowplow naming contest through November 30.

[Above photo by the North Dakota DOT]

“Asking North Dakotans to submit snowplow names is another fun way to get the public interested and engaged in being safe this winter,” said Matt Linneman, North Dakota DOT deputy director for engineering, in a statement.

Image by the North Dakota DOT

“We hope people submit their best names and then download the ND Roads app so they can be up to date on winter weather in their area,” he added. “Making an effort to ‘know before you go’ will help keep our plow operators and other motorists safe this winter.” 

Joel Jundt, secretary of the South Dakota DOT, noted in a statement his agency will announce winning snowplow names for each of the 12 SDDOT geographic areas. He added that his agency took its snowplow naming contest to “another level” by adding a “Blizzard Bracket” held in March and April this year. The bracketing contest provided the agency with additional opportunities to promote winter safety messaging during the prolonged winter season.

“The 2022-2023 winter season was definitely one for the record-books,” Jundt said. “Our winter operations staff worked countless hours to remove snow in some of the toughest winter weather conditions experienced in recent years. The snowplow contest is a fun, yet purposeful, way to interact with the public to encourage usage of vital winter weather related resources like SD511.”

Image by MassDOT

[Editor’s note: The Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities recently conducted its own “Name a Snowplow” contest in mid-October, with the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet launching a new statewide “Paint the Plow” program in September to decorate the agency’s snowplow equipment with safe driving messages. The Massachusetts Department of Transportation also just kicked off its second annual “Name a Snowplow” contest for elementary school students, with an entry deadline of December 1.]

State departments of transportation across the country are gearing up for the 2023-2024 winter season, conducting equipment checks and training drills, among other activities.

For example, the Arkansas Department of Transportation’s Winter Weather Strike Team recently conducted training drills in the central part of the state; drills that included driver training, performing equipment checks and maintenance, road-testing snowplow trucks, and testing communications with the agency’s Emergency Operations Center.

Photo by Arkansas DOT

This team works around the clock to clear snow and ice from Interstates and Highways by working in tandem with county and regional maintenance forces to ensure roadways statewide are safe. When members of the Strike Team are not responding to a winter weather event, they serve as members of striping, signing, milling, and bridge operations maintenance crews, the agency said.

“We do everything we can to be prepared and work efficiently when winter weather hits,” noted Michael Kelly, Arkansas DOT staff maintenance engineer and emergency management liaison officer, in a statement.

[Editor’s note: The New Mexico Department of Transportation uses a snowplow simulator to help train newer employees on the fine points of roadway snow and ice removal operations.]

“These drills help us see both our strengths and areas for improvement,” he added. “It’s our job to keep our roadways safe, and we take that responsibility seriously.”

The Ohio Department of Transportation began conducting safety checks on snowplows and equipment statewide, hiring seasonal drivers and mechanics, as well as topping off salt supplies in early October to ensure it is ready to go when the first hints of winter arrive. The average first day of measurable snow in Ohio ranges from early November in the northern portion of the state to late November for southern Ohio, the agency noted.

“Maintaining Ohio’s highways is a year-round job for Ohio DOT, and it’s never too early for crews to start thinking about winter travel,” said Governor Mike DeWine (R) in a statement. “It takes a great deal of planning and coordination before the snow falls to help ensure that roads stay clear during and after each storm.”

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