MORAINE, Ohio (WDTN) – Officials with AAA and the Ohio Department of Transportation say their crews are prepared to help drivers get around as the season’s first accumulating snowfall arrives in the Miami Valley.
With the return of winter weather this Monday after Thanksgiving, officials from AAA and ODOT told 2 NEWS many of their crews will be on the roads during the evening and into Tuesday morning.
“It’s a little early in 2020 to see winter weather,” said Chris Overpeck, fleet operations manager for AAA Miami Valley.
As of 2:30 p.m. Monday, AAA’s call volume in the Miami Valley was typical for a Monday, Overpeck said, adding he expects that to change during the evening hours.
“For my operation alone, I’m one of the largest towing operations in the region,” he said. “Every truck I have is going to be out on the road.”
Some of the most common issues AAA crews see during winter weather include dead car batteries, tires without enough air or tread and crashes and slide-offs caused by too much speed and too little following distance, Overpeck said.
As crews with the Ohio Department of Transportation head out on the highways, officials urge other drivers to also give them plenty of room.
“People have a tendency to get right behind the plow trucks, they feel safer there,” said Mandi Dillon, public information officer for ODOT. “But there’s a lot going on behind that plow truck.”
Although ODOT crews were unable to pretreat the roads due to the rain that arrived ahead of the snow, hundreds of their trucks will be out around the clock to keep roads passable across the region and the state, Dillon said.
“The snow’s starting to fall, so we’ve got crews working to just kind of do what they can to clear those roads,” she said.
Crews from both AAA and ODOT are also following new COVID-19 safety protocols, including sanitizing vehicles between workers.
“We had to suspend any customer riding in our trucks,” Overpeck said of AAA’s procedures. “We need to keep our drivers safe. Naturally social distancing, and every driver is masked up and gloved up.”
ODOT’s drivers are working on staggered start times due to the virus, Dillon said.
“Right now we have some crews coming in at 6:30, some crews coming in at 7, some crews coming in at 7:30 just so that everyone is not in the same place at the same time,” she said.
Both Overpeck and Dillon told 2 NEWS the pandemic has not impacted staffing levels and will not stop their crews from helping drivers get around.
“Everything is business as usual,” Dillon said. “It’s just like everyone else. We’re doing what we can but also doing the best we can to stay safe.”