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Published November 09, 2012, 06:15 PM

MN-DOT snow plow drivers are training indoors to prepare for winter

Detroit Lakes, MN (WDAY TV) -- Fargo snow expected to fall this weekend in the area, may not travel into our area but it is inevitable. So, it never hurts to be prepared.

By: Becky Parker, WDAY

Detroit Lakes, MN (WDAY TV) -- Fargo snow expected to fall this weekend in the area, may not travel into our area but it is inevitable. So, it never hurts to be prepared.

MN-DOT snow plow drivers are already training indoors, on this, a virtual simulator. It gives them work-like conditions, without hitting the road.

"Turn on our strobe lights, put the truck in gear..."

It may look like a video game, but snow plow operators take this training very seriously.

MN-DOT drivers are training in Detroit Lakes on a simulated version of the big trucks they'll drive all winter long.

"I think I was supposed to turn there."

Don White/Simulator Instructor: "If you get new drivers in it's a good way for them to get their feet wet, to see what it's like."

"What, did you make it icy? Whoah!"

Each of the more than 50 plow operators in the district are required to spend 45 minutes on the simulator... honing their defensive driving skills and plowing techniques.

Training instructors can even throw virtual challenges in their path, like snow, ice, even a blown out tire.

It isn't quite as easy as it looks… one run of the virtual course showed I wasn't ready to take a real plow out for a spin.

The simulator has realistic touches, you can feel when it crashes or goes up on a curb. But the beauty of a simulator is the fact that those errors aren't causing damage to an actual plow.

White: "We can get two or three people trained in an hour, where it would take at least an hour for one person and somebody to ride with them out in the country."

White: "It scores me how I'm doing, too, if I get in a crash, I lose points, if I brake too hard."

While realistic, the simulator doesn't have the same feel as a real plow, but it does save time and money in training.

The simulator trailer travels the state throughout the year.

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