As winter weather moves in, be prepared for snow or ice on highways

Contributed Photo/Courtesy ADOT: A snowplow clears the road. 

Consider delaying travel, expect wet roadways in many areas

ARIZONA – As another winter weather system moves across Arizona this week, drivers should be prepared for potentially hazardous conditions on some state highways in the high country and wet roadways elsewhere.

The Arizona Department of Transportation encourages motorists to stay up to date on forecasts from the National Weather Service and plan their travel accordingly. That includes delaying travel when highways are snow packed or icy.

Drivers in lower-elevation locations should plan for possible rain and wet roadways and be prepared to slow down.

Safer conditions will exist in upper elevation areas once ADOT snowplow crews have a chance to clear snow and ice from highways impacted by any winter storms. Here are some winter and wet weather safety recommendations:

  • Slow down and leave extra room: Adjust your speed to the conditions. Slowing down and leaving space between your vehicle and vehicles ahead of you on icy or wet roads can prevent crashes or keep your vehicle from skidding when conditions are slippery.
  • Leave prepared: Dress for cold weather if traveling into the high country. Bring extra clothes and gloves as part of an emergency prep kit in case you need to stop along a highway. Be sure your cellphone is charged and pack extra drinking water, food, and prescription medications (in case you encounter delays).
  • Other items for an emergency kit: Blankets, a flashlight, an ice scraper, a small shovel, a container with sand, or kitty litter for tire traction if your vehicle is stuck in icy conditions. ADOT has a complete list of items at (look for “Must-haves for every vehicle”).
  • Tire Chains: Drivers also should anticipate that, depending on the severity of winter storm conditions, chains, and/or four-wheel drive vehicle capability are likely to be recommended on some highways impacted by snow or ice.

ADOT and law enforcement agencies remind travelers not to stop next to highways, including I-17, US 180, SR 87, SR 260, or others, to play in the snow. Doing so is unsafe. People should instead go to established snow play areas. Parking along highway shoulders for snow play is not allowed, since that can block areas that emergency response vehicles may need to use.  

In addition to following National Weather Service forecasts (, drivers can visit ADOT’s Traveler Information site at or call 511 for highway conditions. Pay attention to messages on ADOT’s network of electronic signs. ADOT’s Twitter feed (@ArizonaDOT) and Facebook page ( also provide information and answers about highway conditions.