It’s that time of year again, when valley residents brace for the heavy rain, high winds, and spectacular lightning shows. During Arizona’s seasonal monsoons, getting behind the wheel can be hazardous. Slippery roads, unexpected wind gusts, flooded highways, and poor visibility all contribute to the dangers of driving in bad weather. Here’s what you can do to keep safe when you’re on the road.
1. Inspect your vehicle
Make sure your windshield wipers are working correctly, and replace cracked or poor ones. Check your tire tread: take a quarter and insert it head first into the grooves. If there is any space above Washington’s head, it’s time to replace. Replace any headlights or brake lights that are out. You want to see and be seen!
2. Allow extra time
Traffic congestion is worse in bad weather. Plan ahead and leave early so you have enough time to get to your destination.
3. Slow Down
When it rains, oil and grime on the pavement rise to the surface. Wet streets are extremely slick and slippery, making it more difficult to get traction. When you drive slowly, a greater amount of the tire’s tread makes contact with the road, giving you better traction. Drive at a steady pace and avoid jerky movements when braking, accelerating, or turning.
4. Don’t Tailgate
It takes three times longer to stop on a wet road than a dry one. Increase the distance you normally keep from the car in front of you and be alert for brake lights ahead.
5. Pull over correctly
If you decide you cannot drive safely in a severe storm, move completely off the roadway and turn your lights OFF. In poor visibility, other drivers will follow tail lights or brake lights instead of staying on the road.
6. Don’t drive through flooded areas
Only a few inches of water can move your whole car. Flooding can occur on highways and neighborhood streets within moments of a heavy downpour. Be alert for posted flood warning signs or barricades. If you drive around a barricade and become stranded in a flooded area, you will be held responsible to pay for your own rescue according to Arizona’s “Stupid Motorist Law.”
7. Downed Power Lines: Stay
If a power line comes in contact with your vehicle while you are inside, STAY in your car. Wait for help to arrive and honk the horn to attract attention. If other imminent dangers force you to leave the vehicle, do NOT touch the vehicle and the ground at the same time. You should jump out and land with both feet together. Continue to shuffle or hop with both feet till you are at least 50 feet away from your car.
8. Don’t take pictures!
Dying to capture the surreal beauty of that thundercloud or show the folks back home what a haboob looks like? Wait till you’re off the road before you snap that picture. When you’re driving, focus on the road and keep both hands on the wheel.