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Despite high demand for snow plow drivers, NY officials say they’re equipped to handle winter

BINGHAMTON, NY (WSKG) — There has been high demand for school bus and truck drivers recently. With the winter season in full swing, there have been concerns that New York’s Department of Transportation (DOT) won’t have enough snow plow drivers.

Scott Cook is the DOT public information specialist for Region 9, which covers the Southern Tier from Tioga to Otsego counties.

Cook said it has been a bit of a challenge to secure drivers this year, when there’s such demand for them. But he added that New York’s DOT is still well equipped for the winter.

“We are in constant contact with the National Weather Service. And if we see that there's an area that may need a little bit of help, we’ll mobilize. And we'll do what we call deployments. And we'll get people to where they need to be. And we do that every year,” Cook said.

Cook said because winter weather can be so unpredictable, the department is already used to moving drivers and operators around, depending on where the need is most.

There are 26 job openings in the region, which Cook said is more than usual. He said this year, the DOT advertised jobs by using virtual message boards, the kind already used to provide information on the roads.

That’s been very effective, he said, but it also may have made it seem like the department was a bit more desperate than it really is.

“I think the combination of those national stories, and the fact that we lit the virtual message boards may have people thinking the wrong thing. We're in no way in a shortage. We have some openings. And we're ready, we're ready for whatever Mother Nature throws at us,” Cook said.

Cook also reminded residents to be cautious when driving near snow plows.

“You're putting yourself, you're putting other drivers, you're putting our people in danger, if you're trying to pass plows, if you're trying to crowd plows. You know, when it snows, you live in upstate New York. It takes you longer to get places. Plan for that,” Cook said.

The New York Department of Transportation is still hiring snow plow drivers, Cook said, and encouraged residents to apply if they’re interested.