Campaign stresses importance of being careful around plows

A cluster of young Red Deer students huddled around two snow plows parked outside St. Martin de Porres School on Wednesday afternoon, eager for a chance to climb up into the driver’s seat.

A cluster of young Red Deer students huddled around two snow plows parked outside St. Martin de Porres School on Wednesday afternoon, eager for a chance to climb up into the driver’s seat.

The snow plow tours to the 42 Grade 2 students at the school were part of the Safer Winter Highway Campaign, presented by Alberta Transportation and the Alberta Roadbuilders and Heavy Construction Association.

The provincewide campaign, first started in 2006, calls for safer winter driving from motorists and urgers all drivers to allow snow plow operators the time and space they need to do their jobs.

“This campaign directly ties in with the social studies curriculum, specifically about services Canadians provide, so our goal is simply to put a human face on snow plow operation,” said Dana Myckan, the campaign’s communications consultant. “People see these big trucks and think they’re a big inconvenience and through the children, we can say, ‘Hey we know Dan or Mike the operator and did you know they can’t go as fast as us so we need to slow down.’ So it’s a memorable event for them, we hope, and something they enjoy.”

After a brief presentation inside, the students bundled up and headed outdoors to take a closer look at the massive machines that hunker down on Alberta’s highways to clear off snow and ice.

They also signed their names on the plow’s front blade after climbing into the passenger seat to get the rundown on which button controls what on the dashboard.

“It’s like the controllers for a video game,” shouted one students, hopping back down. “So cool!”

The main goal is to spread the word about how snow plows work and create safer highways through that knowledge, said Kurt Wilkie, operations manager with Alberta Highway Services.

Wilkie, who demonstrated to the children what sand and salt can do to ice and snow, said there are over 600 plows hard at work on Alberta’s roads.

The campaign has hit three schools so far this year and is planning on visiting another Red Deer school before the end of March. St. Martin is the only Red Deer school the campaign has made a stop at for 2014 so far.

rfrancoeur@bprda.wpengine.com