Whether you're a Phoenix transplant or a lifetime resident, you've probably heard of our famous Monsoon storms. Monsoon is a word which means "change in wind" or change in direction. In casual conversation the word refers to the short, violent storms that descend on Phoenix during July and August.
Monsoon storms typically have strong winds, blowing dust, and fast-moving clouds that dispense hard, driving rain. These are extremely dangerous weather conditions for drivers! If you get caught in a monsoon storm while driving around, just remember these simple tips to stay safe.
10. Always wear your seatbelt. This is still the best defense against getting injured in a car accident.
9. Use your headlights whenever visibility is reduced. Anything that makes you more visible to other drivers is always a good thing.
8. Don't take unnecessary risks. Always obey stop signs, yield signs, and for goodness sake, stop at red lights!
7. Don't cross flooded washes or standing water! Arizona's "Stupid Motorist Law" gives local governments the right to prosecute you if you knowingly drive around barricades or enter a restricted area. A helicopter rescue or emergency call could leave you with a fine of up to $2,000 dollars.
6. Slow down when it starts raining! Keeping a safe following distance reduces the risk of hydroplaning and gives you more time to react in case of an emergency. Seriously, slow down.
5. Be alert. That means turning down the music, avoiding distractions, and pulling over when you get a phone call. Don't get in trouble because you were sending a text message to your buddy.
4. Keep up with your vehicle maintenance. Check your fluids, tire pressure, and replace any burned out headlight or taillight bulbs. If you don't want to spring for new wiper blades, you can get some more mileage out of the old ones by wiping the rubber strip with a wet paper towel.
3. Travel prepared. Look up directions online before you leave, program your GPS, and bring a cell phone with you when you travel. Luck favors the prepared.
2. Check the forecast before heading out. If a big storm is headed your way, consider changing your plans for the evening.
1. Remember not to panic. While monsoon storms can be intense, they are typically brief. Clear skies may be just a few blocks away from rain, wind, and hail. Odds are you will drive right through the worst of it in just a couple of minutes.
With these tips in mind, you should be very well prepared the next time you drive through a summer storm.