The headlines are all too familiar. Dust storm causes fatal chain reaction crash. Flood waters claim driver crossing swollen wash. Heavy rain sends boulders onto highway. These are among the often tragic or frightening events that occur when monsoon storms strike in Arizona each summer.
The Arizona Department of Transportation is joining other public safety agencies, including the state Department of Public Safety and the National Weather Service, in passing along advice to drivers during Arizona Monsoon Awareness Week.
ADOT urges drivers to be prepared for summer storms and potentially hazardous driving conditions by following these Monsoon safety driving tips:
- When it doubt, wait it out! If you see a dust storm ahead, it’s best to exit and wait for the dust to move through the area.
- When faced with low or zero visibility conditions, pull your vehicle off the road as far to the right as possible. Turn off your lights, set the parking brake and take your foot off the brake pedal. These steps reduce the chances that other drivers mistake your vehicle as the one to follow.
- Don’t risk crossing a flooded wash, even if it doesn’t look deep. Water is a powerful force that should not be underestimated.
- Do not drive around ‘Road Closed’ signs. You risk your life and face being cited under the state’s stupid motorist law.
- If traffic lights are out, treat an intersection just like a four-way stop.
- Expect the unexpected. Have extra supplies, including an emergency kit and drinking water, in case you experience an extended highway closure.
- Storm runoff can loosen boulders and rocks on slopes above highways. Stay alert in rockfall prone areas.
ADOT highway maintenance teams are prepared to respond to monsoon-related incidents. In the Phoenix area, maintenance teams work to clear drainage catch basins throughout the year to limit flooding. Crews also check on the condition of dozens of storm water pump stations along Valley freeways.
To stay up to date on highway conditions across Arizona visit ADOT’s Travel Information site www.az511.gov or call 5-1-1 from within Arizona. According to the National Weather Service, monsoon season officially begins June 15 and lasts until Sept. 30.