Iowa DOT Ready For Season’s First Snow

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AMES, Iowa -- It's the calm before the storm. Iowa Department of Transportation plows are geared up and ready for the first significant snow of the season.

"We just kinda plan for the worst and go from that," said Jim Vansickle of the Iowa DOT. "So we've got all our equipment ready to go. We've been out and tested them all. Everything is working."

Salt spreading and brining won't happen Thursday night, though. With relatively warm temperatures and rain on the way, pre-treating the roads would be a waste of time and resources. The downside, Craig Bargfrede with the DOT said, if the storm comes in too fast, "Then there's a possibility that the snow can turn to ice and then bond to the pavement."

That could make for some dangerous driving. So the DOT has added blue lights to the plows to improve safety.

"By allowing us to have this lighting configuration our goal is to distinguish our trucks so that the public can realize as they're out traveling on the system that is a snowplow truck ahead, they slow down and operate in a more slow and cautions fashion," Bargfrede said.

Since 2009 there have been more than 200 accidents involving Iowa DOT snow plows; most of them rear end crashes and sideswipes from motorists who don't see the plows till it's too late. The DOT is hoping those blue lights will reduce those numbers.

The trucks also feature so called "Plow cam's."  It's just an iPhone that is hooked up in the cab allowing you to see conditions on your computer before you head out on the road. The app was designed by Iowa DOT and is now being shared with other states.

"It is managed by our own staff internally. So we were able to do that at a very low cost," Bargfrede said.

To check out the cameras, click here.

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