Will there be enough snowplow drivers this winter?

Snowplow clearing New York City streets.
(Image credit: Scott Heins/Getty Images)

Roads, meet snow — and lots of it.

An abundance of U.S. states, from Washington to Pennsylvania, are experiencing a shortage of snowplow drivers, a "comparatively low-paying" job that necessitates a Commercial Driver's License and often means working at odd times and in difficult conditions, writes The Associated Press.

"We want the traveling public to understand why it could take longer this season to clear highways during winter storms," Jon Swartz of the Montana Department of Transportation told AP. "Knowing this helps motorists to plan ahead and adjust or even delay travel plans." Swartz' department is short about 90 drivers, he said.

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The deficiency couldn't be coming at a worse time — heavy snowfall is expected in "in large swaths of the country, including Utah and Colorado" in the coming days; Nebraska, Iowa, and parts of Nevada and New Mexico are also expecting storms.

State transportation departments attribute the shortage to the low unemployment rate, an aging workforce, and a surge in demand for CDL drivers in other sectors. Private companies also have the luxury of competitive salaries or benefits, whereas any changes on the state level typically require legislative approval, AP explains.

"Everyone's sort of competing for the same group of workers and private companies can often offer higher salaries than the state government," said Barbara LaBoe of the Washington state Department of Transportation. LaBoe also said the department had lost 151 workers who chose not to comply with a COVID-19 vaccine mandate.

Pennsylvania, meanwhile, is down 270 permanent positions and 560 temporary ones, AP writes. Said Spokesperson for the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation Alexis Campbell: "Our goal is to keep roads safe and passable rather than completely free of ice and snow." Read more at The Associated Press.

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