SouthCoast Snowplow Drivers Speak Out
For starters, I am not a snowplow driver, nor have I ever operated a plow in my life. What I do know is that the drivers who embrace snowstorms head-on deserve more respect and aren't given enough recognition.
First of all, I'd like to talk about the disgusting amount of complaining about yesterday's snowstorm. This is New England, people, you should be used to its wintery conditions. It's February after all. Every other post on Facebook was about how a snowplow driver plowed them in or took down their mailbox. Hey, there were even posts about a lack of people plowing and how there should have been more.
These are most likely the same people who are, like me, inexperienced when it comes to plowing the streets and highways of the SouthCoast. There are two types of snow plowers in the world: independent drivers, and drivers who work for the city, town or state. Regardless of where they work, they all have the same goal: to clear the roads and make the streets safer to drive.
They are the first ones to embrace the storm and the last to leave. If there's any indication of snowplow drivers intentionally hitting mailboxes, then I feel sorry for that person. Of course in any situation, there's always going to be a rotten egg in the carton, but that doesn't mean you have to throw the other 11 eggs out. In other words, don't blame every snowplow driver for the wrongdoings of one individual.
Mother Nature can be a real you-know-what and our snow plowers are working hours and hours on end, waiting for the moment to come where they can go home and spend time with their families again. Sometimes the snow is light and fluffy, but then there are times like yesterday's storm that brought heavy, wet snow.
I can pretty much guarantee that any mailboxes that were broken were not from the actual plow hitting it, but in fact from the snow. Even at slow speeds, wet snow can weigh a ton and gets thrown from the front of the plow.
I reached out to a handful of snowplow drivers across the SouthCoast to get their views on this and was more than satisfied with their answers:
Edson Lararo, independent driver for Fall River/Middleboro:
"People get mad that we push all the snow into their car, not knowing the reason for the parking ban is to clear the snow for the hydrant. Not for nothing, but we are out on the road sometimes for like 24 hours with no sleep, just so they can get up in the morning to clean their own driveway and car so they can start their normal life. We do get good money, but I'll tell you one thing: parts aren’t cheap."
Benjamin Garcia, Dartmouth DPW:
"If we plow a side road and make one pass up and one pass back, that still leaves four feet of snow on each side of the street. So we are told to go curb to curb to properly clear the road. With that being said, the snow is literally getting thrown from our plow even at low speeds when it’s heavy and it is no match for the mailboxes. This crazy notion that it is done on purpose is wrong. We are out on the roads for hours and hours and want to get home to our family. The last thing we would want to do is intentionally ruin someone’s property. I can personally attest, for at least the Dartmouth DPW, that there are no vicious people that would do it on purpose; they are all a great group of guys."
Michael Jardin, independent driver for Acushnet:
"I can guarantee you 99.99 percent of the time we do not do it on purpose (damage mailboxes). We don’t want to destroy people's properties, that’s the last thing we want to do, especially during a time like this. Every year that it snows, there are routes you have to do a specific way and we’re out there for 18 to 24 hours nonstop. We are tired and we are human, but some people don’t understand."
Chuck Tetrault, independent driver for Dartmouth:
"Ninety-nine percent of the time a mailbox being smashed was not intentional. People don't take into account the size of the truck nor the plow. Some of those wing plows, as they're called, can be six feet high at the edge (give or take). A 20,000-pound truck driving down the road at 25 miles per hour with a plow that size can throw a considerable amount of snow and this stuff last night was heavy. You pick up a shovel full of that heavy wet stuff at the end of your driveway and toss it onto the snow it sinks down a considerable amount; now figure the force of that shovelful times 50 and that is roughly what's coming off the wings of those plows. In the day and age we live in, everyone is so in tune to blaming someone else for their issues. Nobody respects that fact that us plow drivers are out usually before the first flakes fall, salting and pretreating the roads so they don't cover over as fast. I have friends who are out for two to three days per storm, countless hours to make sure the roads we drive on are safe, but sadly, nobody cares about that. It's always 'Oh, I got stuck behind the plow convoy on the highway, they were going so slow.' Well, I guarantee you if the plows let everyone pass they would all slide into the ditch and then blame the plow drivers for not doing a good enough job. Even the route supervisors and managers spend so much time with planning and preparation that goes into every single storm."
Jeff Haworth, independent driver for Haworth's Property Services, LLC in Fairhaven:
"When you go down the road with your plow down and it's heavy, wet, slushy snow, it will knock down a weak mailbox. It's not intentional and we try to avoid it whenever possible. People need to realize that the roads, parking lots and driveways all need to get cleared and we work hard to do that for them. Most mailboxes in good shape don't usually fall, it's usually the plastic ones and the ones with rotted posts."
Todd Letourneau, independent driver for Dartmouth, New Bedford, Fairhaven, Fall River:
"There's a lot of mental stress that goes into plowing. Just the other day I was driving to downtown New Bedford on Hawthorne Street from Dartmouth and I came across three school crossing guards. One of them was telling me to go while another one was telling me to stop (which I was to allow a pedestrian to cross the street). As all this was going on, a guy in a blue truck was laying on his horn for me to go. It's crazy sometimes. If it wasn't for the great crew I have, and the fact that I love what I do, I would not be doing it anymore. Lastly, I will say this: 100 percent of the mailboxes that get damaged get replaced for free by the city or towns and that's a fact. It's actually in the budget."