Snowplow drivers fighting fatigue

(WXYZ) - The recent slew of snowstorms has kept road crews hopping as they race to clear the streets and keep drivers safe.  But the truck operators are fighting terrible conditions and frigid temperatures.

After 30 years of plowing Wayne County roads, Dave Terry has seen it all: snow, ice, sleet, and slush.
But even this veteran plow and salt truck operator is feeling the fatigue after weeks on end of Mother Nature's wrath.

"Is it hard when we have this many storms in a row," asked 7 Action News Investigator Heather Catallo.
"Yeah, it gets tiring. You don't even know what day it is sometimes," said Terry.

Terry says he's only had one day off since December 23.

"You have to be here.  It has to get done.  People have to make it to wherever they need to go," said Terry.

For this shift, Terry started at 3:00 Sunday morning, and he's still going.

"You've got to be exhausted," said Catallo.
"Well, they gave us a 4 hour break last night, got up at midnight and went right back at it. We've been going ever since," said Terry.

Road crews in other counties are also feeling the strain from all that snow and the ice that's yet to come.

In Macomb County, they've had 60 trucks operating 24/7 since Christmas Day to clear 1800 miles of roads. 

"Fatigue is getting to be a challenge, the wear and tear on the equipment is getting to be a challenge, we're having a lot of trucks breaking down," said Oakland County Road Commission spokesman Craig Bryson.

In Oakland County, they've been working non-stop as well, with 100 trucks on the roads last night and 50 more out during the day today.  
They're trying to spread enough salt combined with brine on the streets to prevent everything from icing over as the thermometer plummets. 

"It takes a lot more salt below 10 degrees to have the same effect above that temperature.  We'll continue to salt, it'll be less effective, there's more likelihood of ice, so we're just urging everybody to be cautious," said Bryson.

Plow truck drivers do take breaks every 16 hours or so, but with the snow drifting across the open stretches of freeway in southern Wayne County where Dave Terry works, it's going to be a difficult few days.

"Probably not going home," said Terry.


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