Plowing into winter! ADOT, DPS urge drivers to be prepared for snow and ice on highways this season

PHOENIX – With Arizona experiencing another wave of snow in the high country this week, drivers should be prepared for what may be a busy winter-weather travel season on the state’s highways.

The Arizona Department of Transportation and Department of Public Safety say drivers should plan ahead if their travels could include encounters with snow or ice. ADOT has a fleet of more than 200 snowplows across the state and more than 400 trained snowplow operators prepared to clear highways this winter. Giving snowplow operators plenty of room to safely do their jobs is among the following key safety recommendations for drivers to observe:

  • Slow Down – drive according to road conditions, including operating at slower speeds and avoiding sudden acceleration on snow and ice.
  • Leave Extra Room between your vehicle and the vehicle in front of you. 
  • Give Snowplows Space – slow down and stay at least four vehicle lengths behind a plow.
  • Be Prepared – bring extra clothes and gloves, maintain at least a three-quarter-full tank of gas, keep your cell phone charged and pack extra drinking water, some food and all necessary medications. Pack items that would help in case you encounter an unscheduled highway closure.
  • Pack an Emergency Kit in your vehicle – it should include blankets, a flashlight, ice scraper, small shovel, container of sand for traction and hazard warning lights or reflectors.
  • Beware of Black Ice – especially at night when melting snow can turn to slippery ice. And remember, ice tends to form on bridges first and can be hard to see.
  • Stay Up to Date – Visit ADOT’s Travel Information site at to get the latest highway condition information.

Depending on the severity and frequency of snow and ice in the state’s high country, ADOT usually spends between $5 million and $8 million on snow-removal operations during a winter season. Nearly 190,000 gallons of fuel were used to keep snowplows and support vehicles running last winter.

Did you know ADOT has three snowplows stationed in the Phoenix area? The trio of plows is kept at the agency’s Mesa maintenance yard and is most often used to clear snow and ice from sections of State Route 87 north of Fountain Hills, if and when a winter storm delivers snow to that area.

ADOT has helpful information about driving in winter weather conditions, including what to include in an emergency kit, at . The site also provides an overview of ADOT’s efforts to clear snow and ice from state highways each winter.