Drivers should use caution when monsoon weather strikes

Contributed Photo/Courtesy ADOT

Be prepared, stay alert for wet highways, possible flooding, and debris

PHOENIX – With monsoon rains, possibly heavy at times, forecast in Arizona over the next few days, drivers should be alert for wet roads, potential flooding, and debris on highways across much of the state.

The Arizona Department of Transportation says drivers should pay attention to weather forecasts and avoid traveling in severe weather conditions if at all possible. Monsoon weather can produce thunderstorms with sudden, heavy rainfall.

Storm runoff can send debris, including large rocks or boulders, onto highways and local roads. This summer, as has already been experienced, areas, where wildfires have burned in recent years, are vulnerable to debris flows. Drivers should use caution, especially at night when visibility is reduced. Keep these tips in mind:

  • Don’t risk crossing a flooded wash, even if it doesn’t look deep. Even a few inches of running water poses a serious risk.
  • Storms can loosen boulders and rocks on slopes above highways. Stay alert in areas prone to falling rocks.
  • Don’t drive around “Road Closed” signs. You risk your life and face being cited under state law.
  • If traffic lights are out, treat an intersection as a four-way stop.
  • Inspect your windshield wipers and replace them if necessary.
  • Reduce your speed and maintain a safe distance between your vehicle and the one in front of you.
  • Avoid sudden braking, which can cause you to slide on wet pavement. To slow down, take your foot off the gas pedal and brake slowly.

Other safety tips for driving in rainstorms are available at azdot.gov/monsoons.

Drivers also should be prepared for dust storms during the summer monsoon weather. Avoid driving into a dust storm. In almost no time, blowing dust can drop visibility to zero, especially where small dust channels afford drivers little or no opportunity to avoid this hazard. Here are other dust storm safety tips:

  • If you encounter a dust storm, immediately check traffic around your vehicle (front, back and to the side) and begin slowing down.
  • Don’t wait until poor visibility makes it difficult to pull off the roadway safely; do it as soon as possible. Completely exit the highway if you can.
  • Don’t stop in a travel lane or in the emergency lane. Look for a safe place to pull completely off the paved portion of the roadway.
  • Turn off all vehicle lights, including your emergency flashers. You don’t want other vehicles approaching from behind to use your lights as a guide and crash into your vehicle.
  • Set your emergency brake and take your foot off the brake.
  • Stay in the vehicle with your seat belt buckled and wait for the storm to pass.
  • Drivers of high-profile vehicles should be aware of changing weather conditions and reduce speed.

More information on dust storm safety can be found at PullAsideStayAlive.org

Real-time highway conditions are available on ADOT’s Arizona Traveler Information site at az511.gov, by calling 511 and through ADOT’s Twitter feed, @ArizonaDOT.

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