Arizona has already received its first taste of winter weather this November—an early start to the snow season. But the Arizona Department of Transportation has been preparing for its winter operations all year long, and now is the time when preparedness translates into action.
Weather conditions in Arizona can find you driving in sunny, moderate climates of the low desert to ice and snow in the mountain regions in just a couple of hours. These types of winter storms can really cause havoc with travel plans and businesses. And it means that ADOT—and drivers—need to be prepared.
Public safety is ADOT’s top priority when winter storms tighten their grip on the state and roads become snowy and icy. ADOT resources are quickly deployed during and after storms to keep state highways safe and open for motorists and businesses. To date, ADOT’s 196 snowplows are serviced and ready, 395 snowplow operators are trained and on alert, and maintenance yards are stocked with deicer materials and equipment.
ADOT has also added 15 new snowplows to its fleet this winter season to replace 15 older plows. These new plows, which cost approximately $250,000 per vehicle, are being deployed to different regions around the state.
ADOT’s yearly budget for snowplowing and winter storm maintenance is between $3 million and $7 million, depending on the severity of the winter season. Last season, ADOT spent approximately $5.7 million on snow removal efforts. This figure includes labor costs, equipment expenses, fuel and deicer chemicals.
While ADOT is prepared to keep the roads clear and open, the agency is encouraging motorists to be prepared as well when driving in snowy and icy conditions. Winter can be a dangerous time with wind, ice, snow and freezing weather causing unsafe conditions. With that in mind, ADOT recommends the following winter driving tips:
- Slow down, be patient and drive safely. Plan for extra travel time.
- Be alert: ice forms on bridges first and is hard to see.
- Never pass a snowplow and leave approximately 500 feet between you and the snowplow in front of you.
- Maintain at least a three-quarter full tank of gas.
- Notify someone of your travel route, destination and projected arrival time.
- Carry an emergency preparedness kit in your vehicle that includes blankets, extra clothes, a flashlight, an ice scraper, a shovel, sand for traction, a fully charged cell phone, and hazard warning lights or reflectors.
- Brake slowly to avoid any panic braking or jerking the steering wheel.
- Increase the distance between you and the traffic ahead.
- Carry plenty of food and water and all necessary medications.
- Carry tire chains, snow cables or snow tires.
- Wear warm clothes to protect you during extended time periods in cold temperatures.
Additional information can be found on ADOT’s “Know Snow” website. The website also contains downloadable snow maps of snowplowing schedules and routes.
Before heading out on the roads, drivers are encouraged to call 5-1-1 or log on to ADOT’s Traveler Information Center at www.az511.gov for the latest highway conditions around the state. The website features images along state highways that give drivers a glimpse of weather conditions in various regions.
For more information about ADOT’s winter storm efforts, check out our latest blog posts.