MARICOPA COUNTY, Ariz. — Arizona's freeways are getting dirtier and state officials are urging drivers to think twice before throwing their garbage out the window.
In 2021, the Arizona Department of Transportation reported collecting 118,578 bags, equal to about 800 tons, of garbage off the sides of Maricopa County's freeways. That's a 47% increase compared to the 80,442 bags of trash gathered in 2017.
“Don’t toss that burger wrapper, paper cup, or cigarette butt out of the window. All of those seemingly small and insignificant items build up over time creating safety issues,” said Mary Currie, who manages ADOT’s Adopt a Highway programs.
ADOT officials said more and more garbage is accumulating around the county's freeways each year, which can cause drainage issues around the Valley's retention basins.
Those who litter along Arizona highways are at risk of getting fined up to $500.
“By not littering and securing your loads, we can all help keep Arizona grand,” Currie added.
Witnesses can report highway litterers by submitting a tip to Litter.AZ.gov, which may result in ADOT sending the offender a letter educating them on the negative effects of littering.
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Driving Safety Tips:
The Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) offers driving tips to help keep people safe on the road.
"There’s always room for improvement when it comes to road safety," the department said on its website.
ADOT's suggestions include:
Don’t speed or drive aggressively
Never drive while under the influence of substances
Avoid distractions while driving
Wear your seatbelt and make sure all passengers are doing the same
When an emergency vehicle is on the side of the road, move over
Stay extra aware in work zones
Be prepared for weather conditions that make driving dangerous
"Real-time highway conditions are available on ADOT’s Arizona Traveler Information site at az511.gov, by calling 511, downloading the AZ 511 app and through ADOT’s Twitter feed, @ArizonaDOT," the department said.