Snow season got off to an early start last week, pushing the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) to ready its winter operations plan.
ADOT has 202 snowplows and 420 snowplow operators are trained and on alert, with maintenance yards stocked with de-icer materials and equipment.
ADOT added 16 snowplows to its fleet this winter season, replacing 16 older plows. These new plows cost $250,000 each.
ADOT spends between $4 million and $8 million clearing snow each year. Last season was particularly heavy as ADOT spent approximately $7.6 million on snow removal efforts. This figure includes labor costs, equipment expenses, fuel and de-icer chemicals.
The agency encourages motorists to be prepared for snowy and icy conditions, which brings dangerous winds, ice, snow and temperatures. 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.
• When driving behind a snowplow, stay back at least a few car lengths until it’s safe to pass or until the plow pulls off the road. If you think you’re traveling too close to a plow, you probably are. Be safe and stay back!
• 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” Web site at www.azdot .gov/KnowSnow. The Web site 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 Web site features images along state highways that give drivers a glimpse of weather conditions in various regions.