The reason is simple — money.
The NCFOR said pay is decent for experienced drivers, but agencies need to raise their starting wage.
The average wage for a snowplow driver is reportedly around $25 an hour, NCFOR said, but for most state-run transportation departments in the west, the starting wage is just over $19 an hour.
The number is even lower in Utah. In fact, Utah has the second lowest starting wage in the west at $17.60 an hour. The only lower wage goes to Nevada at $17.50.
The Utah Department of Transportation confirmed they also have several openings for plow operators.
Staffing started to become an issue around the time of the pandemic, according to Doug Anderson, the incoming chairman of the NCFOR.
“There are so many local agencies that have mentioned that they’ve just basically given up and decided to do the best they can with what they have. They just can’t get the applicants that they’re looking for, in trying to, you know, fill these plows,” Anderson said.
The problem, he said, is funding. Local agencies can’t afford to pay their workers more.
If this continues, Anderson said states could see major road closures, which in turn hurts the economy.
More importantly, he said, it could get dangerous. If the roads aren’t clear, crashes can happen and lives may be lost.