CAMP RIPLEY -- Before the snow flies, snowplow operators across the state are brushing up on their driving skills.

MnDOT is holding their annual training session at Camp Ripley this week.

Rick Shomione is the Maintenance Training Coordinator and says drivers work on a variety of things in a controlled environment.

We have seven teams out there and each team has six different rodeo exercises, everything from a serpentine, blind-side back, driver-side back, alley dock.

During the two-week training, drivers go through classroom instruction, drive on several obstacle courses and hit the highway with an instructor.

They start out just driving on the base and once they become more skilled and proficient in operating the truck, then they go out on the highway.

Shomione says the training is designed to give drivers some basic techniques. He adds their training will continue when drivers get back to their districts.

They have to learn their plow routes and get familiar with them, they have know how to load and unload their truck with their loaders for sand and salt.

MnDOT has been training at Camp Ripley for the past 16 years to ensure all drivers are comfortable behind the wheel before they hit the highways during whiteout conditions.

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