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Preparing for winter travel in Arizona

Posted at 11:17 AM, Nov 14, 2019
and last updated 2019-11-14 13:24:01-05

PHOENIX — Winter doesn't officially begin until next month, but the Arizona Department of Transportation is already preparing to respond to icy and snowy roads in the high country.

ADOT has 200 plows ready to respond to snow, including two TowPlows. The TowPlow is a steerable trailer with a 26-foot blade that is attached to the back of a snowplow. These are assigned to I-40 west of Flagstaff, an area that often sees a lot of snowfall. TowPlows can do the job of two snowplows by clearing a 24-foot path.

Ryan Harding, a spokesperson for ADOT, said it's important for drivers to let the plows do their jobs when they're out on the roads.

Here's how to respect the plow:

  • Never pass a snowplow! Slow down and be patient.
  • Stay at least four car lengths behind snowplows and equipment. Plowed snow can create a cloud that reduces visibility, and spreaders on trucks throw salt or sand that can damage your vehicle.
  • Watch for snowplows operating in multiple travel lanes or in tandem.
  • If approaching an oncoming snowplow, slow down and give the plow extra room.

Harding said it's also important to make sure you check your vehicle before heading to the high country. Make sure the tires, heater and windshield wipers are in good shape.

It's also a good idea to have a preparedness kit in your car.

Here are supplies you should have:

  • Fully charged cell phone
  • Flashlight with extra batteries
  • Drinking water
  • Winter coats, warm blankets or both
  • First-aid kit and any prescribed medication
  • Ice scraper and small shovel
  • Bag of sand (or cat litter) for wheel traction
  • Travel tool kit and battery cables
  • Safety flares
  • Road map
  • Prepackaged fruits, nuts and nutrition bars