Nebraska’s snowplow drivers gave virtual rides to nearly 30,000 people Tuesday — the day the state started sharing dash-cam images through 600 windshields.
Users logged in from New York, Denver, Minneapolis, Iowa, Indiana and, of course, all over Nebraska to access the state Department of Transportation’s new Plow Tracker page on the Nebraska 511 website.
“We were expecting it to be big,” said Jeni Campana, a department spokeswoman. “The response exceeded our expectations.”
The state installed cameras in its 600 or so snowplows, and each transmits a photo every minute via cell signal. The cameras run whenever the trucks are working — plowing snow or helping repair roads — on about 10,000 miles of highways and interstate.
The project has been in the works for more than a year, and the department had been testing the system internally and to limited users since November.
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The number of visitors started growing as soon as it launched the page at about 10:30 a.m. Tuesday. By the end of the night, nearly 30,000 users had visited the site.
They accessed the page about 35,000 times that day, Campana said. By comparison, Iowa’s Track a Plow page had nearly 75,000 views in the past 30 days, though a spokeswoman said that doesn’t count users who accessed the images through the state’s 511 Traveler Information website.
In Nebraska, users spent an average of two minutes on each viewing session, likely moving from truck to truck to truck, touring the state while checking highway conditions.
“They’re just clicking around,” Campana said. “That’s really all you can do.”