ODOT Outfits Plows with Strobe Lights

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PAINESVILLE, Ohio -- The official start of winter is still a couple of months away, but state road crews are ready to take on the snow.

“We’re here for our annual readiness event, where we inspect all trucks that we’re going to be using this winter to keep the roads clear,” said Amanda Lee, spokesperson for the Ohio Department of Transportation. “They check the tires, the plows the hoses, the lights, the salt spinners, you name it. Everything gets checked to make sure that it’s in tip-top shape for when that first snowflake flies.”

Yet, the 175 drivers for ODOT’s 12th District said the snow isn’t the only challenge they’ll face.

“Safety is really important,” said ODOT driver Tony Teresi, who showed off the 97 trucks Tuesday. “These guys weigh 3,000 pounds. Some of them are 12-footers, some of them are 11-footers, and it’s hard to deal with in the lanes.”

Everyday drivers, too, pose a problem for the cleanup crews.

“You have to be a defensive driver,” said ODOT driver Mick Rose. “You have to pay attention to not only what you’re doing in your route, you have to pay attention to vehicles that are along side of you, behind you.”

So, to make things a little easier for everyone this year, Lee said the trucks are now being retrofitted with green strobe lights so everyone can see the cleanup crews.

“Hopefully, when there's white-out conditions, that green will still stick out,” Lee said. “Studies show that green is very perceptive to peoples' eyes, so we're hoping it will curb those rear-end collisions.”

About one-third of the fleet will have green lights by the end of the year, Lee said. ODOT plans to have the rest of the trucks retrofitted for new lights by the end of winter.

Lee said Ohio is among the worst states for collisions with snow plows. So as the snow begins to fall, keep an eye out for that green light and remember to slow down.

“Give us room,” Teresi said. “We need room to manipulate these things. And make sure the salt’s coming out, doesn’t take them out or what we spill off takes them out.”