The Arizona monsoon season, with its signature thunderstorms, lightning and heavy rain, can sometimes be a welcome break from the monotony of our steady, extreme heat. But if you’re driving during a sudden monsoon storm, the novelty can quickly turn to danger.
In addition to rain, thunder and lightning, the Arizona monsoon season (which runs from mid-June through the end of September) brings high winds, flash flooding and dust storms—all potentially life-threatening driving conditions.
So that you can stay safe this monsoon season, we’ve compiled must-know dos and don’ts while at the wheel. Having the proper driving skills to navigate the storms is your first line of defense.
Do stay informed. Subscribe to weather updates on your phone, so you know if a storm is headed your way.
Do stay alert. Distracted driving always endangers yourself and others, and this danger is compounded when weather poses additional risks.
Do prepare yourself and your vehicle. Be ready with extra supplies, including drinking water, non-perishable snacks, a portable cell phone charger, first-aid kit and flashlight. Get more tips for keeping your car ready for the Arizona summer here.
Do turn your headlights on while driving in the rain.
Do reduce your speed and increase following distance between your vehicle and the one in front of you.
Do drive in the center lanes and avoid lanes where water is accumulating.
Do treat an intersection just like a four-way stop if traffic lights are out.
Do understand what to do if you’re hydroplaning (when a thin layer of water accumulates between the road and your tires, causing your vehicle to lose traction). Ease your foot off the gas and avoid braking suddenly, while gently turning your steering wheel in the direction your vehicle is sliding so you regain traction.
Do pull your car off the road as far to the right as possible in low- or zero-visibility conditions. Turn off your lights, put your car in “Park” and make sure to take your foot off the brake pedal. This will prevent other drivers from seeing your brake lights and thinking they should follow you.
Don’t hit the road if you don’t have to. Storms typically move quickly through the area, so if you see a storm coming and can stay off the road until all is clear, that’s your best bet.
Don’t drive irresponsibly or erratically. You may think you’re in control, but other drivers may have a harder time seeing you, and you’re at greater risk for causing a crash in monsoon storm conditions.
Don’t brake suddenly in the rain. Pressing hard and fast on the brake pedal can cause your vehicle to slide.
Don’t cross flooded areas, even if they look shallow enough to drive through. Any water on the road—even just a few inches of water—should not be underestimated. Because our soil doesn’t absorb moisture readily, water runs off into our roadways, turning them into rivers in mere minutes.
Don’t drive around signs or barriers indicating that roads are closed or unsafe. You could increase your chances of being seriously injured or stranded and risk being cited under Arizona’s Stupid Motorist law.
Dust storms (also known as “haboobs”) are another common summertime occurrence in Arizona requiring safe-driving know-how. Get our tips here. Want to brush up on your driving skills? Contact us to find out how our classes can help you be prepared for safe driving in all conditions.