Plow drivers in short supply this winter

BLACK BROOK, N.Y. (WCAX) They are the unsung heroes of winter-- our plow drivers. But we're seeing a shortage of them. Our Kelly O'Brien asked why.

"It's not a glamorous job, you know," said Robert Haywood, the highway superintendent in Black Brook.

It's a trend spanning across New Hampshire, Vermont and New York-- the need for plow drivers.

"You see it all the time now," Haywood said. "It used to be you couldn't get a job with the state."

New Hampshire DOT officials say they have witnessed a similar trend, numbers are down and they aren't sure of the exact reason. VTrans says, "We're definitely having a problem with hiring in Chittenden County." They have had two vacancies but no applications. The New York State DOT says the numbers in the North Country are in "good shape," but highway superintendents tell me they notice a delay even down one driver.

"It takes longer to get the roads done. Instead of a probably four-hour turnaround, it's gonna be five or more," said James Waldron, the highway superintendent in Saranac.

When trying to figure out the exact cause, officials said it could stem from the need for a commercial driver's license (CDL) to operate the plows or the undesirable hours.

"A lot of people don't want to be called at three in the morning. You know, Saturday morning, Sunday morning, Saturday night, Sunday night, you sit down to dinner and I call them back. It's not glamorous by no means," Haywood said.

Many drivers are switching to private companies for more glamorous pay but these officials tell me they take care of their employees.

"Hopefully they look at the benefits package. That's a big thing. When you look at the bottom line, the money that they're bringing home, you need to look at the benefits, too, or it's not worth waking up at three in the morning," Haywood said.

These drivers know how important their job is-- working to keep the roads and communities safe. And at the end of the day, they hope you do, too.

"A lot of people do appreciate it, some people, you know," Haywood said.

Now, those jobs could be temporary or full time. If you want to apply, call your local highway superintendent or contact NHDOT - 603-271-3734, NYSDOT - 1-877-DOT-JOB1 or VTrans - 802-828-2657