They are on the road during every snowstorm and at times when you are not.

Plow trucks. How often do you think of the people behind the wheel of these trucks though?

Many people work long hours at their job but most don't work as long as plow truck drivers during the winter months.

From Kittery to Caribou, and Bangor to Portland, these drivers work 16, to 24, to 40-hour shifts.

"I really don't like to work in storms that we're getting an inch an hour," said Caribou's Public Works director, David Ouellette.

He gets behind the wheel of one of the trucks in his department's fleet when his crew is short-staffed.

"We are already at our average [snow total] for the last 40 years," added Ouellette.

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The high snow totals in Caribou, coupled with an early start to the season, has led to some long hours for Oullette's crew.

"The season started early," said Ouellette. " We actually plowed snow in October."

A record-breaking January snowfall led to Oulette's crew working 3, 36-40 hour shifts  

"About the most, we've worked is 40 hours straight ahead," said Ouellette. "The hours just add up."

RELATED: Caribou breaks record for all-time snowiest January

"Portland is completely different from any other community," said Public Works director Chris Branch.

He is working with a crew of 46 people compared to Caribou's crew of only 15.

However, the Portland plow truck drivers are not allowed to work more than 16 hours straight due to safety concerns.

"That makes it kind of tricky to schedule and plan and figure out how we're going to get everything manned to be able to do the work we need to do," said Branch.

It's a distance of 300 miles from Portland to Caribou but a difference of nearly 25 hours allowed behind the wheel.

The difference lies in each city's agreements between their administrations and their unions.

"The unions don't give us any problems," added Caribou's Ouellette.

The city of Bangor falls somewhere in between Portland and Caribou, literally.

Public Works director Eric Willett said he tries not to have his drivers work more than 24 hours straight and never lets them exceed 32 hours.

None of the Bangor plow drivers have needed to work a 24-hour shift this Winter, largely due to the storms and their timing.

Willett added that he believes the disparity is dependent on the size of the DPW crew. The Bangor crew, for example, is slightly short-staffed, down about five positions. 

"We work as long as it takes to keep roads open because the last thing we want is for a fire truck or an ambulance that can't get through to a burning house or to someone in medical need," said Ouellette.

Safety is always at the forefront of Ouellette's mind which is why he urges his drivers to take as many breaks necessary to get the job done safely.

"The concerns are always there," added Ouellette, regarding his drivers on the road for long periods of time. "It's safety for the citizens but we also try to be careful with ourselves as well. If they have a turnaround spot and they need to close their eyes for 15-20 minutes or a half an hour, by all means, do it."

Willett's policy in Bangor is similar, advocating for his drivers to take breaks based on how they are feeling behind the wheel.

The amount of time crews spend on the road clearing snow is also heavily reliant on the weather.

Oullette said the snow presents a pretty big challenge, especially with how much of it Caribou has seen this season, but it's actually the wind which is always stronger than the snow.

"Long hours are usually not because of the snow but because of the wind," said Ouellette. "I've seen us work 12, 15, 18, 20 hours for plowing and then it could be 2 or 3 days after that we're dealing with the drifting."

"When you look over, and the guy beside you is still [plowing and clearing snow,] it gives you drive to continue," said Ouellette through laughter.