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Highway heroes keep traffic moving

Plow drivers just want a little room to maneuver

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He stresses that if pedestrians must use the highway to walk in low light or at night reflective gear is a must.

Earlier this season he was plowing and noticed some unrecognizable reflections coming towards him.

"I could see them but I couldn't tell what it was with the reflection of the lights. It was two joggers and three dogs," says Goochey adding that fortunately, "...they were very well lit up."

But not every creature on or near the road has access to reflective gear. Deer, coyotes and more criss-cross the roads regularly and can pose a real threat to drivers in poor conditions. Goochey, who has been behind the wheel of a plow on-and-off for about nine years, had his first wildlife encounter earlier this month.

"I was coming from Pemberton and it was dark still when all of a sudden down by Rutherford (a deer) just darted out straight across in front of me," Goochey explains. "I didn't feel it. I hit it. I stopped and couldn't see it but there was fur on the plow."

He kept an eye out for the animal each time he passed through that area for the next few days but he didn't see any evidence of it — he is hoping the deer suffered just a glancing blow.

In the more than 20 years Goochey has been living in Pemberton and driving trucks he has heard many deer versus vehicle stories. Some of the stories he's heard end with severe vehicle damage, as was the case for his wife a few years ago when her vehicle suffered thousands of dollars in damage. The deer, he explains, had enough life in it to flee the scene.

Mainroad has broken Highway 99 into blocks from Function northward. The first one is the 24km of road they call D1, the section Goochey often works.

As we get about halfway into D1, Goochey says one of the most stressful things he and other plow drivers face is the bold drivers who pass snowplows on the right side. It happens up to 10 times a season.

That concern is echoed by Mainroad manager Brad Gerhardt — passing on the right of a plow is the thing that irritates him most about poor winter drivers. The boldest drivers will try and squeeze in between a team of three trucks plowing in tandem to clear the wider sections of highway.

"People try to get up in between because they're going slow and pass our trucks on the right, constantly," says Gerhardt. "It is so bad I have sat in my pickup with my lights on blocking people from trying to get around so that our trucks can do the job."

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