Brace for the snowplow driver shortage of 2021

A shortage of snowplow drivers is plaguing the Midwest and Northeast, and could lead to troubling conditions this winter.

Snowplows are generally a welcome sight — unless you’re a grade schooler, and then they’re the only thing standing between you and a snow day.

In snowy regions of the Midwest and Northeast, officials are reporting record driver shortages for snowplows and salt trucks, which keep roads safe after winter storms.

One reason for the shortage is a competitive market

Snowplow drivers need a commercial drivers license (CDL). In many cases, they are employed by the state and often have fixed salaries.

Given the shortage of drivers in other sectors, plow drivers are being lured away to private companies offering higher rates and bonuses.

This has led to unprecedented shortages, including 6 states that are short 100+ drivers on interstates and highways.

Transportation officials are pulling out all the stops

Proposed solutions include:

  • Raising wages, which Michigan’s Department of Transportation plans to do if the shortage continues
  • Hiring private contractors, which Albany, New York, expects to use for 40% of the city’s snow

If none of these solutions work, most officials are confident the snow will be cleared eventually,  but it will take longer than usual — which likely means more snow days.

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