MnDOT’s Minnesota Snowplow and Safety Simulator Training for Local Agencies

The inside of a snowplow simulator includes a view out of a snowy windshield with wipers moving, a side mirror, and access to the steering wheel and plow controls.

Date and Location

Not currently scheduled.  

About the Training

Jet pilots use simulator training to gain exposure to the unexpected. The result is a well-trained pilot who can anticipate hazardous situations and react in the safest possible manner to extreme conditions. Snowplow and Safety Simulator Training uses state-of-the-art technology to prepare snowplow drivers to expect the unexpected and deal with the challenges of adverse winter driving and road conditions. 

The simulator provides attendees with a basic plow cab control system with everything from a 15-speed max manual transmission to an automatic transmission. The plow and wing are operated with a touch screen. Like a real plow, the simulator has a steering wheel, fans, horn, turn indicators, mirror and seat adjustments, interactive dashboard, and other controls. The steering wheel is responsive and the sounds are realistic. The view screen gives a 180-degree view with realistic graphics. 

Trainers use the snowplow simulator to create an unlimited combination of hazardous situations involving weather, traffic, and road conditions that a driver may rarely encounter in the real world. This prepares the snowplow driver to handle potentially dangerous situations without being involved in an actual accident. The training, which is tailored to local agencies, will consist of a four-hour class divided into three parts: a PowerPoint presentation, a self-paced computer-based training, and simulator driving performance.

Watch a short video about the simulator training.

Training Benefits

Snowplow and Safety Simulator Training provides a safe environment in which students can experience hazardous weather conditions, varied road conditions, heavy vehicle and pedestrian traffic, and difficult maneuvering. The simulator also provides training in an off-the-road setting, which reduces insurance, training, and fuel costs; fleet maintenance; liability exposure; and vehicle damage. Other benefits include: 

  • Ability to evaluate performance after each simulation 
  • Decision-making skills are challenged in a safe environment 
  • Ability to practice maneuvers repeatedly until mastered 
  • Training is standardized, so each attendee can learn the same techniques in a controlled environment 

Success of the simulator training has been proven by studies done by the Ohio and Iowa Departments of Transportation, Iowa State University, and the San Antonio, Texas, and West Covina, California, police departments. A study done by the University of Utah found that simulator training significantly reduced the severity and number of accidents.

Who Should Attend

All snowplow drivers, regardless of years of experience, can benefit from training in the simulator. This includes anyone who has snowplowing as part of their position description or who plows as a seasonal or temporary driver.


Informational Contact

If you have questions, please contact Minnesota LTAP at


This workshop is presented by the Minnesota Department of Transportation and hosted by the Minnesota Local Technical Assistance Program (LTAP) at the Center for Transportation StudiesUniversity of Minnesota. Minnesota LTAP is sponsored by the Minnesota Local Road Research Board (LRRB) and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA).