HARRISBURG -- You can now see where those PennDOT plow trucks are during a winter storm from the comfort of your own home.
The Commonwealth has hundreds of trucks ready to roll in the event of a storm, and all of those trucks are now equipped with tracking technology so PennDOT and you can see where they are and where they've been.
When plow trucks leave salt sheds to head out on their routes, they have a GPS device on board. Now we can track them down to the minute, online or on a smartphone.
PennDOT employees who work at the command center in Dunmore pull long hours following a storm like the one we just had. They're able to track every plow and keep an eye on state-owned roads.
We can too on the internet or using a smart device.
"It's great for us internally, but it's also great for the public that they can go in and see where the plows have been. They can see the actual route that the plow took, and they can see when it was last on their road," said PennDOT official James May.
Each plow truck is equipped with a special GPS device. PennDOT has used them for years so officials can collect all of the information that they need. Now they're sharing some of that information with the public.
"We've had the technology and we've been utilizing it for some time now. There are some new features that we have this year that we haven't had in the past. One of those is the ability to actually track your road, track your route," May explained.
Using PennDOT's computers in Dunmore, we tracked our route back to WNEP's newsroom in Moosic, instead of directions, getting to-the-minute updates on when each state road was last plowed.
This storm was the first chance many of us have had to use the plow tracker, including Joe Antosh who used it to find the safest route for his son to take to work.
"I think it helped him out," Antosh said. "It helped me out knowing that he's going down a safer route on his way to work in the morning."
It helps take the guesswork out of getting around this winter.
"In the past, we just had to guess and drive safely and see what you encountered along the road as you went. It's not a foolproof technology, but it does provide a little more information as you make your decision to travel," Antosh said.
One of the most convenient options for commuters is the ability to check your route. Click on the "Check My Route" button then enter the start and end locations for your trip and see updated plow information for each state road on your commute.
Also, drivers can check to see when the last time a specific road was plowed.
Check out PennDot's live plow truck tracker at 511pa.com