Winter driving preps: ADOT is ready. Are you?

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By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

PHOENIX -- The temperatures have cooled and winter is right around the corner.

While most of us are just putting away the shorts and tank tops, the Arizona Department of Transportation is preparing for snowfall. Today they unveiled their 16 brand-new snowplows that will be clearing the roadways in the high country.

The machines will replace older equipment and will be added to the more than 200 plows already in service. While the 4-ton trucks are ready at the drop of a flake, the 400 drivers are using a snowplow simulator to reacquaint themselves with winter driving conditions.

Meanwhile ADOT is warning drivers to start getting ready now for the trek up to Northern Arizona.

They advise to make sure you have an adequate amount of gas -- at least three-quarters of a tank -- in case you are stuck in traffic. But it's not just about being at a standstill on the roadway. A full gas tank will give more weight, which means more traction on slippery blacktop.

Nintzel also suggested that you bring along extra water and snacks, dress warmly and drive slowly. It might help if you get your vehicle serviced before making that drive, too.

"If you're behind a snowplow, don't be tailgating," said ADOT spokesman Doug Nintzel. "Give yourself several car lengths, at least, behind a snowplow while that operator is clearing the snow for you."

Winter driving tips from ADOT

The Arizona Department of Transportation is committed to making travel safer in our state. Winter can be a dangerous time with ice, snow and freezing weather causing unsafe conditions. Enjoy the diverse weather that Arizona has to offer and drive safely.

To make your winter driving safe and enjoyable, ADOT offers these driving tips:

Plan ahead

  • Maintain at least a three-quarter full tank of gas
  • Carry warm clothes to protect you during extended periods in cold temperatures
  • Carry tire chains, snow cables or snow tires
  • Carry plenty of food and water and all necessary medications Carry a fully charged cell phone
  • Visit or dial 5-1-1 to check for current road and weather conditions
  • Plan your travel route and allow for extra time to arrive at your destination
  • Notify someone of your travel route, destination and projected arrival time
  • Get plenty of rest before your trip and take breaks during your trip to stay alert
  • Carry an emergency preparedness kit in your vehicle that includes blankets, a flashlight, an ice scraper, a shovel, sand for traction, and hazard warning lights or reflectors

Drive carefully

  • Drive for conditions: slower speeds, slower acceleration
  • Use your headlights
  • Do not use cruise control
  • Four-wheel and all-wheel vehicles do not stop or steer better on ice
  • Leave extra room between your vehicle and the vehicle in front of you
  • Remember, the larger the vehicle, the longer the stopping distance
  • Slow down when approaching intersections, off-ramps and bridges
  • 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!
  • If approaching an oncoming snowplow, slow down and give the plow extra room

Know what to do in collisions and emergencies

  • Dial 9-1-1
  • If possible, move the vehicle out the travel lanes into a safe area
  • Attend to all medical needs in a safe place, if possible
  • If you are making arrangements to have your vehicle towed, do that in a safe location
  • If your vehicle becomes non-operational, raise the front hood to signal that it is disabled
  • Be alert to the hazards of moving traffic, especially on a slippery road surface
  • Do not stand anywhere in the travel lanes or close to your vehicle
  • The emergency lane or shoulder berm are not safe places to stand or park

In addition to these winter driving tips, ADOT reminds all motorists to respect winter weather, conduct a pre-trip inspection of your vehicle, leave extra space between your automobile and others on the road, NEVER drink and drive, AND ALWAYS BUCKLE UP!