Do You Know About the Arizona Stupid Motorist Law?
We may not get rain often here in sunny Arizona, but when we do, we get a lot. During summer monsoons, even major highways can get closed off due to high water levels—or completely destroyed by powerful flash floods.
Flooding doesn’t just cause millions of dollars in damage to our streets, highways, and other public structures. It also poses a serious risk to humans on and off the road. Last summer, four flood-related fatalities were recorded over the course of just one week.
Despite the dangers, some drivers decide to drive right into the middle of a flooded area and, when they come out of it, face being charged according to the stupid motorist law.
What Is the Stupid Motorist Law?
According to the stupid motorist law, drivers who get stranded on a flooded roadway after ignoring barricades will be liable for any rescue expenses. In other words, the driver will have to pay for any public emergency services that are used to carry out the rescue. Drivers can also be charged if they entered a flood area because of reckless driving, even if there are no barricades.
Thankfully, motorists know they shouldn’t drive into flooded areas, so the law isn’t commonly applied. In the few cases it can be enforced, it’s up to the authorities to determine whether the driver should be charged.
One of the most well-known cases occurred back in 2013 when a bus carrying 33 people tipped over on its side after being swept up by a flash flood. Luckily, no passengers were injured, but authorities investigated whether the driver should be held liable under the stupid motorist law. The driver was ultimately charged for reckless driving because the flood area wasn’t barricaded.
Avoiding the Stupid Motorist Law: What Not to Do During Monsoon Season
The best way to not get caught up in the law? Don’t get caught up in bad weather. Follow these tips on how to drive safely during monsoon season.
DON’T DRIVE AT ALL (IF POSSIBLE)
If you can, stay at home while the storm passes. If you’re already out on the road, carefully pull over to a secure location and wait until you can safely drive again.
DON’T IGNORE FLASH FLOOD INDICATORS
Flash floods are notorious for how quickly they can turn from dry land to a death trap, so when you see “flash flood area” street signs, it’s best to turn around and find a different route.
DON’T DRIVE THROUGH FLOODED AREAS
Avoid any flooded street, whether or not its barricaded or labeled a flash flood area. All it takes is a few inches of water to move your whole car. Plus, you never really know how deep the water goes until you’re in the middle of it.
DON’T BE AFRAID TO CALL 911
No matter how you ended up there, if you get stuck in a flooded area, don’t hesitate to call 911. You don’t want to risk your life over the possibility of being charged for your rescue.
Don’t become a “stupid motorist.” Our driving courses give you the skills and knowledge you need to stay safe this season and all year long.