ADOT

Holiday highway travel requires focus on safety

Holiday highway travel requires focus on safety

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Holiday highway travel requires focus on safety

Holiday highway travel requires focus on safety

By Doug Nintzel / ADOT Communications
December 22, 2021

At this time of year, when many of us travel on state highways for holiday treks to see family and friends, we want drivers to focus on making smart decisions.

Each year during the holiday travel season there are sobering reminders about tragic crashes on Arizona’s network of local streets and statewide highways. A year ago, there were 10 fatal crashes that claimed 14 lives on Arizona roadways -- local streets, county roads or statewide highways -- over the Christmasholiday. Ten fatal crashes also occurred during New Year’s weekend last year and three of the New Year’s weekend fatal crashes were alcohol-related.

We hope these numbers get your attention if you have plans to drive in the coming days or during the winter travel season.

What can you do to be prepared for a highway trip? It starts with never driving while impaired by alcohol or drugs. Options are out there: arrange for a designated driver, a cab or ride service in advance. If you find yourself facing a situation where someone shouldn’t be behind the wheel, do what you can to take their keys or be prepared to contact law enforcement so they don't injure themselves or others.

Based on an assumption that you’re on the nice list and have taken the pledge to not drive impaired, you also should be well-rested before heading out on a road trip. Fatigued driving is impaired driving and is a serious highway safety risk. 

Be prepared for winter road conditions, especially if traveling into the high country. Stay up to date on the forecast and seriously consider delaying travel until after a storm passes. That gives ADOT’s snowplow operators time to clear highways that can become snowpacked or icy.

Whether highways are icy, wet or dry, you should keep your speed under control. Excessive speed is a leading cause for crashes. Many lives could be saved if people buckled up, slowed down and didn’t make unsafe passing moves or do other aggressive things, like tailgating.

Each year, ADOT and the Department of Public Safety hear from stranded drivers who weren’t prepared for unscheduled highway closures, including times when winter weather stops traffic. You need to expect the unexpected and pack an emergency prep kit with extra drinking water and other supplies that can help keep you comfortable if a closure occurs. For more information visit azdot.gov/KnowSnow and look for “Must Haves” for every vehicle.

Before you leave on that trip, or if you’ve made a stop (including at a rest area), our 24-hour Traffic Operations Center is there for you. Real-time highway conditions are available on ADOT’s Arizona Traveler Information site at az511.gov, by calling 511 and through ADOT’s Twitter feed, @ArizonaDOT

When a freeway closure or other major traffic event occurs, the free app ADOT Alerts will send critical information directly to app users in affected areas – where possible, in advance of alternate routes. We’re ready for the holidays and 2022. We want you there with us. Safely Home.

Need a holiday gift? ADOT has you covered!

Need a holiday gift? ADOT has you covered!

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Need a holiday gift? ADOT has you covered!

Need a holiday gift? ADOT has you covered!

By Laurie Merrill / ADOT Communications
December 21, 2021

Have you finished your holiday shopping?

If you’re like me, you might be waiting until the last minute to purchase the perfect present.

Well, fellow holiday procrastinators, I have a tip for finding the go-to gift: ADOT.

Seriously, don't laugh.

ADOT can be your one-stop, online shopping destination. ADOT has plenty of ideas for everyone on your list. Best of all, everything can be purchased online.

Here are some of the ADOT options:

  1. You can give the gift of togetherness by signing up for the Adopt-A-Highway program and even get a sign with the name of your choice. More importantly, you are bringing together friends and family to build memories, while performing a valuable community service.
  2. Anyone who appreciates stunning photography will enjoy a subscription to the 
    Adopt a Highway
     award-winning Arizona Highways Magazine. Or perhaps one of an array of unique gifts, such as gorgeous calendars, jewelry, ornaments, books and more offered by the Arizona Highways Store. Whether your recipient is an ardent traveler, history buff or just loves thumbing through glossy pages filled with Arizona beauty, these are ideal presents. Plus, there is an Arizona Highways specialty plate if you want to go all out!
  3. If you have children who love science, engineering or anything on four wheels, you could consider the gift of education and fun by making regular visits to the ADOT Kids website. Created to spark children’s imaginations and curiosity about what makes things go, how bridges are built, how vehicles work and more, it offers activity sheets, videos, quizzes, maze challenges and more. Want to know about snowplows? Highway signs? Engineering paths? It's all on ADOT Kids.
  4. Okay, maybe these don’t really into the holiday present category, but they are free and will save you tons of time on highways. Download the ADOT Alerts and AZ511 apps today or anytime during the holidays and get the gift of avoiding road closures, crashes and other emergency events.
  5. The last gift idea is the most precious. If you haven't already, considering registering to become an organ and tissue donor with the Donor Network of Arizona. The ADOT Motor Vehicle Division partners with the Donor Network of Arizona to allow people to register as donors when they apply for or renew a driver license.

Shopping with ADOT is convenient and offers some interesting, thoughtful and, potentially, life-saving gifts. In fact, during a break from writing this blog, I ordered a Arizona Highways calendar for one one my friends who has everything.  

For more blogs on ADOT holiday gifts: 

 

 

 

 

 

While traveling during the holiday season, save the phone for the rest area

While traveling during the holiday season, save the phone for the rest area

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While traveling during the holiday season, save the phone for the rest area

While traveling during the holiday season, save the phone for the rest area

By Ryan Harding / ADOT Communications
December 16, 2021

With the holiday season upon us, many will be traveling to see family and friends for Christmas and New Year’s. There’s also the possibility of receiving snow in the high country, which will attract day-trippers.

With these extra incentives to travel, it’s important to remember to not drive distracted. Distracted driving is dangerous and we’ve all heard and seen stories where tragedy strikes in a glance of a text.

If you’re traveling alone, drivers are urged to use phones to call or text at one of the state’s 15 rest areas. Once in a rest area, you can safely devote your attention to your device to make a call or send or respond to texts.

In 2020 in Arizona, more than 8,000 drivers involved in crashes were engaged in distracted driving behavior. But the real number is much higher because traffic safety stakeholders say many drivers don’t admit to being distracted or died in the crash.

The use of hand-held mobile devices, like smartphones and tablets, while driving is banned in Arizona. On all Arizona roadways, it is illegal for drivers to talk or text on a device that isn’t engaged in hands-free mode.

So, when traveling during the holiday season, spread some Christmas cheer by not driving distracted. Make use of the rest areas when nature calls, but also for making phone calls or sending texts while you’re safely off the road and not driving. 

While we’re on the topic, check out ADOT’s Emmy Award-winning distracted driving awareness campaign, “Distracted Drivers Terrify Me.”

Doing our part to ease supply chain issues

Doing our part to ease supply chain issues

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Doing our part to ease supply chain issues

Doing our part to ease supply chain issues

By Doug Nick / ADOT Communications
December 10, 2021

It probably goes without saying that, until recently, most people didn’t think very much about the “supply chain.”

In an economically vibrant country like ours, we’re used to getting things when we want and as much as we want, depending on what we can afford and so on. Now, the jammed-up supply chain is a part of our national conversation. 

ADOT is, of course, a part of that conversation. Transportation is woven inextricably into the supply chain, so we see the issue every day. Since ADOT’s mission is, “To connect Arizona. Everyone. Everywhere. Every Day”, we’re happy to be a part of an effort to ease this problem. 

Governor Doug Ducey has issued an Executive Order designed to ease the process for getting a Commercial Driver License, temporarily reopen two long-closed rest areas to give truckers more options and commit to a forward-looking process for Arizona to collaborate with other states on other improvements. 

All the details can be found in this news release from the Governor's Office.

The bottom line is that ADOT is committed to serving the people of Arizona and those who travel through our state, whether for commerce or pleasure. In this case, keeping vital economic corridors open and using safe and commonsense ideas to allow commercial drivers to do their jobs efficiently are ways we can be part of the solution. 

Governor Ducey, ADOT Ease Burden On Commercial Drivers

Governor Ducey, ADOT Ease Burden On Commercial Drivers

I-17 101 traffic interchange

Governor Ducey, ADOT Ease Burden On Commercial Drivers

Governor Ducey, ADOT Ease Burden On Commercial Drivers

December 9, 2021

PHOENIX — Governor Doug Ducey and the Arizona Department of Transportation are safely easing the process for obtaining a Commercial Driver License in an effort to alleviate stress on the transportation system and help address the nationwide supply chain crisis.

The Governor’s Office and Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) also are reopening two long-closed rest stops so commercial drivers have additional opportunities to rest.

"We are working to make sure commercial drivers and Arizona families have the support they need this holiday season," said Governor Ducey. "Prices are rising and commercial drivers are under an incredible amount of stress as they transport goods. Today's action will help alleviate this stress. My thanks to the Arizona Department of Transportation for streamlining requirements for commercial drivers and strengthening Arizona’s supply chain.”

“Arizona’s highways are critical for our economy, and the trucking industry is one of the key transportation modes for moving goods through our state and around the country,” said ADOT Director John Halikowski. “We are pleased to take these steps to make processes easier, while enhancing safety for commercial drivers at this important time of the year.”

Removing Regulatory Burdens

To facilitate more commercial drivers being able to obtain credentials, through Executive Order, the Governor will extend the validity of the commercial learners’ permit (CLP) from six months to one year, in alignment with federal law. This gives a student more time to fulfill training requirements without having to reapply for a new permit. The purpose of the CLP is to allow a student to operate a commercial motor vehicle for training purposes with a licensed driver present.

The Executive Order, in alignment with the current federal waiver, will temporarily allow a commercial driver to keep their CDL past the date that the person’s medical certification is required, until Feb. 28, 2022. CDLs are regulated by the federal government. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) previously initiated a series of waivers, including one that allows a driver to keep their CDL active temporarily after the expiration of a medical certificate. Arizona will adopt this practice temporarily, until Feb. 28, 2022, to keep current CDL holders on the road and alleviate supply chain challenges. CDL holders can upload documents online, as well as verify the status of their Arizona medical certificate, at azmvdnow.gov.

Using recent guidance provided by FMCSA, ADOT will move forward with rulemaking to open commercial driver license services to Authorized Third Party providers. During the 2021 legislative session, HB 2134 was signed into law, allowing ADOT to expand commercial driver license services to its Authorized Third Party providers. As CDLs are regulated primarily by the federal government, ADOT requested and received guidance from FMCSA to determine which actions would be permitted under federal law. Once fully implemented, individuals will have expanded options to receive CDL services from Authorized Third Party providers, providing an increase in convenience and accessibility to obtain a license.

Accessibility To Rest Stops

Last week, the Governor directed ADOT to reopen two previously closed rest areas at Parks (I-40) and Christiansen (I-17). Both are now open to serve the public, providing additional opportunities for drivers to park and rest, and further alleviating stress on the supply chain. This is a temporary measure; these rest areas will be open through Jan. 18, 2022 to provide relief for critical deliveries during the holiday season. 

Going Forward Together

Arizona will launch the Arizona Transportation Consultancy Project, which will strengthen and further enable ADOT to collaborate with other states and adopt similar improvements that Arizona has implemented. Jumpstarting the supply chain is a cross-jurisdictional issue that requires the improvement of processes across multiple states. 

Arizona has undertaken many successful initiatives to make obtaining a CDL and the necessary permits simpler and more accessible to drivers, including the expansion of online services. Currently, ADOT is upgrading the Medical Examiner Certificate (MEC) submission process to allow handwritten MECs to be processed digitally, using advanced technology; expanding CDL services to Authorized Third Party providers; and preparing to modernize its commercial vehicle permitting system.

While these efforts have produced excellent results for Arizona, improvements can’t be confined to Arizona to solve our nation’s supply chain issues. The Arizona Consultancy Project will help other states achieve similar improvements. By sharing best practices and ideas found in the Arizona Management System, providing technical assistance on implementation of programs and sharing state-created intellectual property, processes can be improved across the country.

View the Governor's Executive Order HERE

Avoid a conifer catastrophe; secure your Christmas tree

Avoid a conifer catastrophe; secure your Christmas tree

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Avoid a conifer catastrophe; secure your Christmas tree

Avoid a conifer catastrophe; secure your Christmas tree

By Laurie Merrill / ADOT Communications
December 6, 2021

Gathering the family together to pick out a Christmas tree might be a tradition for some, but, unfortunately, so is improperly securing it to a vehicle.

Don't be that family. You know, the one that arrives home only to discover the tree didn’t complete the journey. The family whose merriment deflates like so much crumpled wrapping paper.

Besides, trees and highways are not a merry combination. It's kind of like getting coal in your stocking.

But more than that, properly securing a tree to the vehicle saves lives. Every spruce, pine or fir that lands on a highway is a hazard and a potential crash. One family's ejected evergreen could be another family’s holiday horror.

We at the ADOT Blog see too many trees littering Arizona roadways. Too many vehicles swerving suddenly to avoid them. Too many public safety responders risking life and limb to remove them from roadways. The highway is no place for a tree.

Whether your tree was purchased at a lot or you got a permit to legally remove one from an Arizona forest, here are some tips to help secure your tree and keep your spirits bright:

  • Supplies: Pack strong rope, nylon ratchet straps, tie-downs and, depending on your vehicle, an old blanket that can be placed on the roof of a vehicle.
  • Netting: Some tree lots will offer to wrap the tree in netting. This can protect your vehicle from being scratched by branches and also helps when it's time to secure the tree to the vehicle roof.
  • Positioning: When placing the tree on the vehicle's roof, make sure the top of the tree is pointing behind the vehicle. 
  • Securing: Securely strap the tree at its trunk, middle and top.
  • Check: Do the tug test. Pull at the tree from different angles to make sure it is snug.
  • Drive smart: There is a large tree atop your vehicle. Make safe and smart decisions when driving that won't cause an evergreen ejection.

And, if you do see a Christmas tree -- or anything else that doesn't belong in highway travel lanes -- please call 911 and report it so the road hazard can be removed.

To read more ADOT blogs about securing your load, click on these: 

Driving safely home, secure your load

Is your load secure? Make sure! 

Be responsible, secure your loads and don't litter

 

Adopt a Highway: US 89 volunteers ‘Keep it grand’ on the Arizona-Utah border

Adopt a Highway: US 89 volunteers ‘Keep it grand’ on the Arizona-Utah border

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Adopt a Highway: US 89 volunteers ‘Keep it grand’ on the Arizona-Utah border

Adopt a Highway: US 89 volunteers ‘Keep it grand’ on the Arizona-Utah border

By Mary Currie / ADOT Communications
December 1, 2021

It could be said that Aaron and Natalie Merullo are a special welcoming committee for travelers crossing the stateline from Utah into Arizona.

The couple maintains the first mile of US 89 when motorists from Utah cross the stateline into Arizona. The Merullos' Adopt a Highway Volunteer recognition sign marks the site of a dedicated effort to reduce the impact of littering. The unfortunate truth is that litter distracts travelers from the roadside beauty of Arizona.

What better way to showcase Arizona than a pristine highway, a metaphoric red carpet for visitors and residents alike? Visitors traveling US 89 southbound from the Arizona-Utah stateline are treated to photogenic travel destinations, like Glen Canyon Dam, Horseshoe Bend and Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument. All that on less than a half-tank of gas.

“We chose this mile because it's closest to our house,” Aaron said. “But I love US 89. It's a great route for a road trip. Natalie encouraged us to volunteer. She wanted to make the highway look better in our neighborhood, but it's also the first impression of AZ, so we thought it was an important stretch.”

This is home to the Merullos, who live and work near the adopted segment. They drive by the “Welcome to Arizona” sign every day, which carries a new significance to them. In November, the couple tagged ADOT on Facebook, highlighting a recent clean-up effort at their adopted mile.

“Our advice to other volunteers would be to clean in the spring and fall when the weather is cool and there are no snakes around,” Aaron added. “We found a few personal items when cleaning and enough cash to take ourselves out to dinner that night.”

Arizona has hundreds of unadopted miles available that can use your help. If you are interested in starting your own group, visit us at azdot.gov/adoptahighway

ADOT gives thanks

ADOT gives thanks

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ADOT gives thanks

ADOT gives thanks

By Doug Nick / ADOT Communications
November 24, 2021

If you grew up in the U.S., you grew up with the particularly unique holiday we call Thanksgiving. 

It’s probably safe to assume that most Americans take some sort of pause at Thanksgiving, whether it’s the traditional overstuffed turkey-and-all the-trimmings meal or another tradition. 

We probably forget that in virtually every other part of the world, it’s just another day. While we lace up our ancient running shoes for the “Turkey Bowl” on some dusty junior high football field, settle in for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and eventually embark on the usual culinary extravaganza, everyone outside the U.S. is living life as normal. So, in this case, we are exceptional. 

To be sure, not everyone appreciates Thanksgiving. It can’t be everyone’s favorite holiday and there are historical realities that give people reasons for added reflection.

But thankfulness, well, that’s something that is universal. It’s just that our country makes a special day of it. 

It might seem odd for a transportation agency to spend a moment and discuss a topic that, shall we say, could be outside our lane. But being thankful is something that requires a moment for everyone to slow down and really think about what we can be thankful for. 

All sorts of cliched things could be suggested. We’ll avoid that because something one person is grateful for may not be your cup of tea. We don’t wish to offend or to assume anything. 

But there is this: If you’re reading this, you have two very important reasons to give thanks. Your heart is beating and your lungs take in breath. 

Never take those for granted. If nothing else, this moment is a moment to celebrate being alive, no matter your circumstances.

If we must justify this sentiment on a transportation blog, please know that ADOT’s “True North” – our guiding principle – is “Safely Home.” It’s not a slogan, we mean it.

Today you might be at home, or you’re welcoming friends and family to your home. Or perhaps you can’t be at home because of work or some other reason. But no matter what, our purpose is to do all we can to get you home, safe and sound. 

We are always thankful for being a part of that. 

Resuming travel this winter? Make sure you ‘Know Snow’

Resuming travel this winter? Make sure you ‘Know Snow’

I-17 101 traffic interchange

Resuming travel this winter? Make sure you ‘Know Snow’

Resuming travel this winter? Make sure you ‘Know Snow’

November 16, 2021

Cooler temperatures are around the corner and that means snow in Arizona’s high country. To help travelers this winter, the Arizona Department of Transportation has partnered with the National Weather Service to create graphics that use their color code for storm severity to better inform drivers of what to expect from winter storms.

Orange is a moderate-impact snowstorm. With this type of storm, drivers should slow down when roads are slick with snow and ice and prepare to spend longer on the road. Leave extra room behind the vehicle ahead. Red is a high-impact snowstorm. In this scenario, drivers should avoid travel if possible. If delay is not possible, strongly consider using 4x4 or snow chains and prepare to spend extended amounts of time in the vehicle. Purple is an extreme-impact storm with 2 to 3 inches of snowfall per hour. Drivers should avoid travel altogether during this type of storm due to dangerous travel conditions.

In each case, drivers should pack an emergency kit that includes blankets, warm clothing, a fully charged cell phone, food and water, medication and sand or kitty litter.

ADOT will use these graphics on its social media accounts to help drivers know what intensity of snowstorm to expect so drivers can make informed decisions about travel. ADOT’s Twitter account @ArizonaDOT and Facebook page facebook.com/AZDOT provide real-time information and interaction.

Drivers can also check road conditions by calling 511 or visiting az511.gov. And the free ADOT Alerts app available at azdot.gov/ADOTAlerts will send critical information, including alternate routes, should snow and ice close a major highway.

ADOT is also ready to help keep highways clear of snow and ice this winter with its fleet of 200 snowplows. Many of these plows include auxiliary cab heaters to keep drivers warm while not idling and wasting fuel; heated windshields to prevent wipers from freezing and getting stuck; backup cameras and a camera and laser guidance system to help guide operators; state-of-the-art lighting packages, and front flex plows that can bend in different configurations to remove snow.

If you come across a snowplow working to clear the road, always help out the plow driver by staying back until the driver pulls over to let traffic pass. Also, never assume a snowplow operator knows your vehicle is nearby. If you can’t see the plow driver, there’s a good chance the driver can’t see you.

Check out more safety tips before resuming your travels this winter season by visiting azdot.gov/KnowSnow

ADOT Selects final Sonoran Corridor route in Pima County

ADOT Selects final Sonoran Corridor route in Pima County

I-17 101 traffic interchange

ADOT Selects final Sonoran Corridor route in Pima County

ADOT Selects final Sonoran Corridor route in Pima County

November 5, 2021

Following several years of study, technical analysis and input from communities and stakeholders, the Arizona Department of Transportation has selected a final 20.47 mile corridor through Pima County.

Following several years of study, technical analysis and input from communities and stakeholders, the Arizona Department of Transportation has selected a final 20.47 mile corridor through Pima County. The Final Tier 1 Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and Record of Decision (ROD), which was released Friday, Nov. 5, identifies the selected corridor, which stretches between Interstates 19 and 10, south of the Tucson International Airport in Pima County. 

A continuous, access-controlled transportation corridor between I-19 and I-10 would:

  • Improve access to future activity centers
  • Improve regional mobility
  • Improve connectivity
  • Integrate the region’s transportation network
  • Address existing and future population and economic growth
  • Provide an alternative to avoid congestion on I-10 and I-19 

The combined Tier 1 Final EIS/ROD, along with its supporting documentation, is available on the study’s website at azdot.gov/sonorancorridor. In addition, hard copies of the combined Tier 1 Final EIS/ROD document are also available for viewing at the following locations during normal business hours: 

Southcentral District Office - 1221 S. 2nd St. Tucson. Please call to make an appointment. Phone: 520.388.4200

Joel D. Valdez Main Library, 101 N. Stone Ave. Tucson, AZ 85701 520.594.5500

Joyner-Green Valley Library, 601 N. La Canada Dr. Green Valley. Phone:  520.594.5295

Sahuarita Town Clerk’s Office, 375 W. Sahuarita Center Way. Phone: 520.822-8801

Subsequent Tier 2 environmental and engineering studies would need to be conducted as part of the NEPA process to further refine the selected 1,500-foot Sonoran Corridor to identify a recommended 400-foot freeway alignment and identify planned interchange locations and other project elements. 

The Final Tier 1 EIS includes a phased implementation plan with preliminary recommendations for how the Sonoran Corridor could move forward into Tier 2 studies. The phased implementation plan includes smaller segments of the selected corridor alternative that may advance as separate, independent projects. These studies, which are not yet funded, would include additional analysis and more opportunities for public review and comment.

For more information about the Sonoran Corridor Study or to view the project fact sheet, please visit  azdot.gov/sonorancorridor

General comments or questions about the study can be submitted to ADOT through the following methods:

Online: azdot.gov/sonorancorridor

Email: [email protected]

Phone: 1.855.712.8530

Mail: c/o ADOT Communications – Sonoran Corridor, 1221 S. 2nd Ave. Tucson, AZ 85713