Monsoon season in Arizona officially has begun and runs through September 30th. We have seen drier-than-normal weather over the last few years, so many Arizona residents are hoping for a bit more rainfall during this year’s monsoon season. With rainfall comes wet roads and dangerous driving conditions. Here are some safety tips to keep in mind this summer!
Driving in Wet and Rainy Conditions
All Arizona residents know that, living in the desert, there is always some amount of dust and dirt on your windshield, no matter how often your vehicle gets washed! That is why Arizona’s Department of Transportation suggests you wait to run your wiper blades until a little bit of water has accumulated on your windshield. Running wiper blades too early on a dirty windshield can lead to smearing dust and grime, which reduces your visibility instead of clearing your windshield. That dust and grime also makes road conditions more dangerous during the first 30 minutes of a storm, since it can combine with oil on the road and make it extra slick. Be sure to slow down and increase distance between yourself and other drivers.
How to Handle Hydroplaning
When roads are slick, the possibility of hydroplaning increases. Hydroplaning happens when tires are riding on a film of water and have no contact with the road beneath. Contact between your tires and the road can be lost in heavy rain at 50 miles-per-hour, and worn or under-filled tires can lose traction at even lower speeds. If you lose traction, follow the tips below to stay safe until your tires gain contact again:
- Take your foot off of the accelerator,
- Do not brake,
- Avoid steering changes, if possible, and
- Hold the wheel firmly until contact is regained.
Flash Floods Happen Fast!
Heavy rain can also cause flash floods to occur in Arizona’s many washes. These usually dry river beds can fill quickly with water and the resulting floods can be deadly. The Arizona Department of Transportation recommends that you avoid driving through flooded washes, especially during monsoon season. Water in these washes can hide potholes and cause your engine to stall if the water is too deep. Be sure to pay attention to what other vehicles are doing and try to gauge the water depth based on sign posts, trees, and other vehicles in the area. If currents are strong enough, the water in these washes can also carry your vehicle downstream and away from the road – creating a dangerous situation for you and rescue workers. Be sure to respect barricades and flood warning signs put in place by law enforcement and ADOT to avoid unnecessary risk! Arizona has an Emergency Response Liability law, which states that you could be responsible for costs incurred by rescue efforts if you ignore barricades and signs stating the road ahead is flooded.
Follow these tips to enjoy Arizona’s summer safely!