VDOT Drivers Getting Ready for Snow Storms this Season

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VDOT is going high tech to teach drivers how to handle snowy conditions this year. This week, drivers are feeling what it's like to drive a snow plow by using a virtual system. Plowing snow can be a dangerous job but thanks to the simulator, VDOT Public Affairs Specialist, Stacy Londrey, said VDOT's drivers will be better prepared this winter.

"It's very realistic. It gives them 270 degrees of line of vision as well as just the feel of the controls," Londrey said.

David Woodson has been plowing roads for VDOT for 21 years. He said drivers have to stay focused all the time.

"The snow and stuff falling into the windshield and you get sleepy. See, I work the nightshift on it and you really get sleepy," Woodson said.

He said practicing on the simulator is invaluable.

"It's just like real life, really, because you gotta watch everything that comes in front of you, behind you, beside you. Next thing you know you'll be in an accident if you don't watch yourself," Woodson said.

George Perez is an instructor for L-3 DP Associates, Inc. the company that provides the simulator and training.

"A lot of these guys already have a lot of years of experience but sometimes even when you do have a lot of experience you have a tendency to get complacent," Perez said.

About 80 snow plow operators in VDOT's Culpeper District are getting behind the wheel as instructors put them to the test to see how they react to icy roads, high winds, low visibility and passing cars.

"Decision driving is the basic because 8 out of 10 accidents are caused by poor decisions on the part of the driver and not the condition of the vehicle," Perez said.

This is the 5th year L-3 DP Associates, Inc. has worked with VDOT and this is the second year the company has trained VDOT drivers in the Culpeper District.