PHOENIX - With thunderstorms occurring in southern Arizona and extreme weather possible elsewhere in the state, Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) warns drivers to leave prepared and be ready to wait out heavy rain, high winds and blowing dust.
Before driving on highways, ADOT suggests drivers review the monsoon-safety tips at PullAsideStayAlive.org.
Monsoon storms can produce sudden, torrential rain. According to ADOT, turn on headlights while driving in threatening weather and when roads are wet, reduce speed and maintain a safe distance between your vehicle and the one ahead. Avoid areas where water is pooling in travel lanes. If your vehicle appears to be hydroplaning, ease your foot off the gas pedal until you regain traction rather than braking suddenly, which can cause a vehicle to skid off the roadway.
Additionally, don't risk crossing flooded washes, even if it doesn't look deep. A few inches of running water can carry away a vehicle, including heavy pickup trucks or SUVs.
Downdrafts from thunderstorms can create sudden dust storms. If blowing dust is ahead, get off the highway as soon as you can do so safely. If caught in blowing dust, immediately check traffic around the vehicle, begin slowing down and get completely off the roadway. Don't stop in a travel lane or in the emergency lane.
Once you are off the highway, turn off all lights, including your emergency flashers, so other vehicles don't use your lights as a guide and crash into your parked vehicle. Set your emergency brake, take your foot off the brake and stay in the vehicle with seat belts buckled until the storm passes.
More information or to stay up to date on highway conditions across Arizona, visit ADOT's travel information site az511.gov or dial 511 from within Arizona. ADOT's Twitter account (@ArizonaDOT) also has the latest information on highway conditions. ADOT warns about the dangers of using cellphones or other mobile device while driving.