If you are among the many drivers who will be taking to the highway over Thanksgiving weekend, the Arizona Department of Transportation is working to ease the travel stress.
ADOT and its contractors will not schedule any full construction or maintenance closures on state highways, including Phoenix-area freeways, from Wednesday afternoon, Nov. 22, to Monday morning, Nov. 27, to help limit impacts on holiday travel.
Drivers should prepare for their trips ahead of time and “expect the unexpected” while focusing on safe driving, being patient and alert when on the road. You should get adequate rest, always buckle up, obey speed limits and never drive while impaired.
Sixteen people were killed last year in a total of 16 fatal crashes on all Arizona roads, including local streets, over the Thanksgiving weekend. Four of those fatalities occurred in crashes listed as alcohol-related.
Due to anticipated heavier traffic conditions during peak travel times including Wednesday and Sunday afternoons, motorists should try to get an early start, allow extra time if possible and be prepared for unscheduled closures or lane restrictions due to crashes, disabled vehicles, inclement weather or other incidents.
Highways that will be busy with holiday travelers include Interstate 17 and State Route 87 north of the Phoenix area as well as I-10 in areas between the Tucson or Phoenix metro areas and California.
Packing an emergency kit can come in handy in case you encounter inclement weather, experience car troubles or face an unscheduled stop in traffic. Items to pack include:
- Extra bottled water
- Snack foods
- A flashlight and extra batteries
- Warm clothing, including extra gloves
- First aid kit
Drivers should be prepared to slow down and move over if ADOT workers, other first responders or disabled vehicles are along state highways. In addition to on-call statewide maintenance crews, the ADOT Incident Response Unit (IRU), sponsored by GEICO, patrols Phoenix-area freeways in Maricopa County from 4 a.m. to midnight on weekdays and from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekends. The IRU operators assist state troopers as well as drivers in need of help. More information about ADOT IRU can be found on the ADOT website.
Drivers and passengers also should remember prescription medications and items such as a cellphone charger in case of unexpected travel delays. Staying up to date on potential changing weather conditions also is important. ADOT provides additional information at azdot.gov/KnowSnow.
Drivers also should check their vehicle before traveling, including tire pressure, engine belts and hoses, fluid levels and the condition of windshield wipers.
Real-time highway conditions are available on ADOT’s Arizona Traveler Information site at az511.gov and the AZ511 app (download free for Apple and Android devices). ADOT also provides highway condition updates via its Twitter/X feed, @ArizonaDOT.