Driving in the winter snow up north? Keep these tips in mind from Coconino County

Coconino County is seeing a big number of crashes and slide-offs. So here's how to become a better driver.
Published: Jan. 20, 2023 at 12:08 PM MST
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FLAGSTAFF, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -- If you are heading up north to enjoy the snow this weekend, be extra cautious. The threat from the heavy snow seen earlier this week is very real. The Coconino County Sheriff’s Office had already made numerous rescues requiring special equipment.

These are the calls the Coconino county sheriff’s office took over the holiday weekend; they helped 73 motorists, assisted with 38 traffic collisions, answered 19 public assistance calls, and worked seven search and rescue calls.

Certain search and rescue calls required special equipment like snow cats, snowmobiles, and a military Humvee to make these rescues. Some calls took several hours. As a result, the sheriff’s office is warning drivers in the mountain areas, especially the backcountry.

“If you are planning to come up here, you need to have some certain essentials inside your car. If you were traveling out into the remote or woods area and get stuck, it may be hours before we can respond because we’ll probably be responding to other people,” said Jon Paxton, Coconino County Sheriff’s Office Public Information Officer.

Also, be mindful of where you park. Deputies had several cases of cars pulling off the side of a highway/ interstate to enjoy the snow. Doing so can land you a hefty fine on top of it being dangerous.

“Worst case scenario, someone is going to walk into that roadway. We’ve even had instances where people were sledding along these areas and the sled would continue out into the roadway. So we try to enforce it, make sure to move them along, and tell them,” said Paxton.

If you’re traveling up north, you should have avalanche rescue gear, such as a shovel, an avalanche rescue beacon, winter survival gear, GPS, food, water, and a map. And, of course, pay attention to the First Alert Weather forecast.