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South Dakota DOT, City of Sioux Falls need snowplow drivers

Published: Nov. 17, 2021 at 4:54 PM CST
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - The current worker shortage is impacting industries all throughout the state. And, now, as we head into the winter months, there is a heightened need for snowplow drivers.

The South Dakota Department of Transportation is capable of running 400 snowplows during the winter. But, right now, 25 of the DOT’s 66 shops, statewide, are understaffed.

“We could have up to maybe 20 or 30 trucks that, if we need them, we wouldn’t be able to get on the road just because of where we’re at with available drivers,” South Dakota DOT Director of Operations Craig Smith said.

If those positions aren’t filled, the impact will fall on residents.

“If we don’t have drivers in those trucks we’re going to have to prioritize, obviously, our interstate,” Smith said. “So, some of those secondary highways, you may not see as many plow trucks on those roads.”

It’s a similar story in the state’s largest city.

Sioux Falls Street Operations Manager Dustin Hansen says, while the full-time workforce is strong, there is still a need for part-time drivers.

“We have, probably, about seven or eight right now and typically we average about 15 to 20, with the goal of being at 25,” Hansen said.

Both operations are counting on construction workers signing on once they’re done working for the season.

“A lot of times individuals that get laid off from those construction companies will come down and work for us during the winter,” Hansen said.

The DOT is offering a $500 bonus to drivers and has increased its minimum wage to $19 per hour.

“We’re definitely trying to do some things to attract drivers and fill those trucks so we can get out there and plow those roads,” Smith said.

With winter storms already hitting some parts of the state, filling these positions as soon as possible is critical.

“Obviously, it’s a huge safety risk if we can’t get out there and have enough drivers to clear the roads.”

Smith says the job sometimes goes under the radar but he appreciates anyone willing to step up.

“There’s definitely that satisfaction in getting out there and knowing that you’re providing a safe highway, and letting people do what they need to do that day,” Smith said.

For more information about becoming a snowplow driver for the DOT, click here.

For more information about becoming a snowplow driver in Sioux Falls, click here.

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