In states where snow might fall every winter, but is unlikely to do so, municipalities need to keep snow plows on hand to handle the white stuff. For the crews responsible for operating these giant machines there is not much time for them to get on-the-job training. For the most part, since it only snows every few years or so (sometimes even much less frequently) these drivers only get a few minutes of exercise behind the wheel of their machine before they are thrust into real duty.

It’s a challenge, to say the least.

Because these machines are so important for keeping the roads clear, and because they are so heavy and dangerous, some states have begun utilizing technology to keep these drivers and their machines and everyone who relies on their service, safe. Driving simulators are nothing new but these states are using machines that simulate the function and feel of a snow plow.

There are already simulators for fire engines and other emergency response vehicles. These vehicles are heavier than a car or truck and therefore require a delicate touch behind the wheel. Take a turn too tight and the weight of a fully loaded fire truck can tip you or throw your vehicle out of control. Like a fire truck, a snow plow is also a delicate machine to operate. Not just for keeping the vehicle on the road but for protecting other vehicles who might be sharing the road with you and for protecting the road, bridges and other systems you are trying to clear from the snow.

Snow plow drivers in Dallas this week had their first trial in the new snow plow simulator, as did snow plow drivers in a handful of states who sit uncomfortably in areas which may or may not get snow each winter. These simulators are credited with keeping the snow plow drivers safe, the equipment safe and everyone who shares the road with them, safe as well.