Hello Everyone –

There have been a number of occasions as I traveled to work this year in Charleston, West Virginia that I have noticed Department of Highway trucks parked alongside of Interstate 64 waiting to pull the trigger on treating the roads as inclement weather was in the forecast.  That got me to thinking, do we (and when I say we I am referring to the ski industry) really appreciate the men and women that keep our roads safe during the winter months.

I truly believe for the majority of the drivers out there the answer is “No,” and that is a sad situation in my books.  I believe most drivers take the folks behind the wheel of the plow trucks for granted.  One of those damned if you do and damned if you don’t things.  I know for a fact that there are times when plow drivers don’t see their families for a couple of days when the snow is hitting the fan across the region.

Through the years of being in the ski industry, I have come to appreciate the folks behind the wheels of the trucks.  They are out on the main and back roads all hours of the night and day, when the conditions are not so bad and when the conditions are just barely bearable.  I mean while you and I are in our cozy homes or vacation rentals, they are out there doing their best to make travel as passable as possible, whenever necessary for everyone on the roads.

As I write this week’s column I just received a news alert from West Virginia Metro News about a story on snowplow drivers in West Virginia this past week having very little time off due to the statewide storms.  Now that is ironic, wouldn’t you say?

Now back to the subject at hand, how many times have you seen or been the driver who has tailgated a snowplow, hoping they would go a little faster because you were late to where you needed to be because you didn’t take road conditions into consideration when you left for your destination. Are you one of those drivers that start banging on your steering wheel because you can’t get by the plow truck? Maybe there is a really good reason that the plow truck is traveling the speed it is and you should take heed.  Or are you that driver that complains when the abrasive that is being applied to the roads is hitting your windshield?  Have you ever noticed there is a sign on the back of the truck saying that you should not get within 500 feet of the truck?  So that pinging that you hear can easily be avoided with the use of some common sense.

Now let’s talk about that common sense factor, getting off this column’s topic a little bit, how many times have you been traveling on your favorite interstate highway in active weather, especially snow at about 10 to 15 miles per hour under the posted speed limit and you get passed by someone like you are standing still. While you truly believe the speed you are traveling is a safe rate under the conditions at hand, the person who passes you must not understand that the posted speed limits are for nice clear dry days, not when there is snow cover or even heavy rain.  I guess the two-minutes they are saving by driving the posted speed limits are worth risking their safety and that of the other cars and trucks on the road.  That just amazes me every time it happens to me. Sometimes it’s just smart to slow down a bit and get there safely just a little later.  How does that old saying go, “Better later than never.”  See, sayings just don’t go out of style, do they?

Now back to the subject at hand, appreciating the efforts of those snow plow drivers that allow us to make those memorable powder turns at our favorite ski resort from Tennessee to Maryland.  If while traveling to your favorite resort and you happen upon a plow driver taking a break at a rest area or even grabbing a quick bite to eat, how about tossing a thank you their way or even better buying them a cup of coffee as a thank you for making your travels that much safer during the winter months.  Remember you have a choice to make the trip to the resort or not, snow plow drivers don’t have that same choice because when the phone rings they have to go and clear the roads.

So the next time you make it to your favorite resort, just take into consideration that person who made it safe for you to make those turns on the slopes, not sliding getting there.

nc ski resortsThat’s it for this week’s column, more to come as the season continues in 2015, just remember whether it be cold or whether it be hot, we’ll weather the weather, whatever the weather will be.  Think about it! See you on the slopes.

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Joe Stevens, a member of the southeast ski industry since 1990 is a regular columnist for skisoutheast.com and serves as the Communications Director for the West Virginia Ski Areas Association.