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As monsoon season begins, drivers are reminded to use extra caution on the road

6/14/17

NORTH VALLEY – Monsoon season officially begins on June 15, and drivers are being reminded to use extra caution on the roads.

This week is Monsoon Safety Awareness Week, and the Maricopa County Department of Transportation is reminding drivers to put safety first while driving in a storm.

“We urge drivers to subscribe to cell phone weather notifications and stay on top of current weather forecasts. If you don’t need to be on the road, wait out the storm,” MCDOT Director Jennifer Toth said in a MCDOT news release. “It’s important that drivers know what to do to stay safe and that they take a moment to get prepared and refresh their memory by reviewing monsoon driving tips.”

The Arizona Department of Transportation is also reminding drivers how to stay safe on roadways when dust storms arrive. ADOT’s top tip: Do not drive into a dust storm. Towering, dense, blowing dust can drop visibility to zero, as if every motorist is driving blind. Just as dangerous are the small dust channels that can whip across roadways in an instant, affording drivers little or no opportunity to avoid them.

ADOT uses an array of tools to alert motorists to severe weather events that can impact travel, including posting messages on overhead signs, the 511 travel information line and social media. During dust storms, ADOT’s Traffic Operations Center staff is in constant communication with crews and law enforcement officers in the field, as well as partnering agencies, to keep current information flowing to travelers.

More information on dust storm safety can be found at PullAsideStayAlive.com and safety tips for driving in rainstorms can be found at azdot.gov/monsoon. Real-time highway conditions are available on ADOT’s Travel Information Center at az511.gov, by calling 511 and through ADOT’s Twitter feed @ArizonaDOT.

MCDOT offers several tips for driving safely in storms, including basic driving information and information for specific types of inclement weather.

Driving tips:

  • Put the phone down: We know the Arizona skies can be breathtaking during a monsoon but put the phone down. Don’t try to take pictures of the storm while driving. Save the picture taking for when you’re safely pulled off to the side of the road.
  • Be prepared for power outages: If a traffic signal is out, treat the intersection as a four-way stop.

Rain:

  • Slow down: Don’t forget posted speed limits are recommendations for best weather conditions. During the rain and especially at the onset of rain, slow down! This is the time when oils and other automotive fluids are being washed off and roads are more likely to be slick.
  • Be patient: Give yourself extra time to get to your destination. It takes three times longer to stop on a wet road than a dry one.

Flood Waters:

  • “Turn Around, Don’t Drown”. A vehicle can be swept away in just one to two feet of water. Water on roadways may be deeper than it looks and, the strength of the current is often underestimated. If you’re stuck in a flood, climb onto the roof of your vehicle and call for help.

Dust Storms:

  • When possible, “Pull Aside, Stay Alive.” Pull completely off the road, turn off all lights, set your parking brake and take your foot off the brake so others do not use your lights to guide them. If you cannot get completely off the road, reduce speed so you have some visibility, use the center line as a guide and intermittently sound your horn. When you can, pull off the road.

For more information on road safety during the monsoon, visit www.mcdot.maricopa.gov.