I-17 101 traffic interchange

Respect the plow! For safety, give ADOT snowplows room to work

Respect the plow! For safety, give ADOT snowplows room to work

December 30, 2018

PHOENIX – With another winter storm blowing in on New Year’s Eve, Arizona Department of Transportation snowplow operators will work 12-hour shifts to clear snow and ice from highways.

And they need your help to do their jobs effectively and safely.

ADOT’s certified snowplow drivers, operating the agency’s nearly 200 plows, need room to work. For your safety and theirs, stay at least four vehicle lengths behind and never pass a working plow until the driver pulls over to let traffic pass.

Never assume a snowplow operator knows you are nearby. If you can’t see the plow driver, there is a good chance the driver can’t see you.

Here are some other safety tips from ADOT snowplow drivers:

  • Consider putting off travel during a storm and waiting until ADOT’s plows have cleared highways of snow and ice. It’s much more difficult for snowplows to do their jobs when a highway is jammed with vehicles stopped by slide-offs and crashes on the slick surface.
  • To avoid interfering with snowplows, drivers of large trucks should heed signs on steep uphill grades telling them to stay in the right lane or right lanes. One example is eastbound Interstate 40 on Ash Fork Hill approaching Williams.
  • If approaching an oncoming snowplow, slow down and give the plow extra room.
  • Leave space when stopping behind a snowplow. The driver might need to back up.
  • Just because a plow has been through an area, don’t assume the roadway is completely clear of snow and ice.

In addition, motorists traveling in the high country should be ready to slow down and allow extra braking distance behind all vehicles.

If you decide to travel during a snowstorm, be prepared for delays and the possibility that you will spend extended time in winter conditions due to slowing and closures caused by the weather. Pack an emergency kit that includes warm clothes and gloves, blankets, healthy snacks, water and a first-aid kit including all necessary medications, and a fully charged cellphone. Make sure your gas tank is full or close to it.

Be sure to check highway conditions before hitting the road and look at the latest weather forecast. Visiting ADOT’s Arizona Traveler Information site at az511.gov or calling 511 will alert you to incidents as well as snow and ice on the road. For Interstate 17 travelers, ADOT’s message boards now provide estimated travel times to Flagstaff, Prescott and other popular high-country destinations.

The free ADOT Alerts app, available for iOS and Android devices at ADOTAlerts.com, will notify users about weather-related delays and closures. 

For more tips on respecting the plow and other winter-driving essentials, visit azdot.gov/KnowSnow.