Staying Safe from Hazards While Driving in the Arizona Desert
Driving in the Arizona desert carries different risks than an ordinary road trip. Motorists must have a plan in place to deal with intense heat, potential break-downs, and water or fuel shortages. But you should also be prepared to face and handle two of the most dangerous desert-related road hazards: flash floods and dust or sandstorms.
The Flash Flood Risk
Flash floodsare common in Arizona’s monsoon season. In this period, which officially lasts from mid-June through September 30, torrential rains cause high levels of water to accumulate in dry river beds or canyons. Because Arizona’s desert sands are slow to absorb water, these normally dry channels suddenly become powerful rivers that travel so rapidly they can flood areas that haven’t even received rain.
Don’t underestimate the power of these floods. The Arizona governmentwarns that even six inches of fast-moving water can knock an adult over and 18-inches can carry a vehicle away. Over the years, these floods have wreaked much destruction and claimed many lives.
To minimize your chances of getting caught in a flash flood while driving, do the following:
- before leaving home, check the weather report to determine whether storms are expected along or near the route you’re planning to take.
- never drive or stop to rest in a dry creek or river bed.
- avoid low water crossings and never attempt to cross a street with flowing water
- set your cell phone to receive emergency alertsand pay attention to any flash flood warnings. If this occurs, drive to higher ground as soon as possible if you’re in a flood-prone area.
Driving in Dust or Sandstorms in Arizona
Dust storms are also common during Monsoon season, usually occurring between May and September. According to meteorologist Larry Hooper, these storms arise when “dry air accumulates between the base of a cloud and ground surface.” They often span more than 50 miles and can reach 5,000 feet tall. Winds can blow up to 60 to 70 miles per hour. Naturally, these storms are extremely dangerous for drivers, as they can decrease visibility to zero.
The Arizona Department of Transportation advises motorists caught in or approaching a dust storm to immediately check for other traffic, slow down, and pull completely off the paved portion of the road as soon as possible. If practicable, they should exit the highway altogether and park the car until the storm passes. For more tips, check out the Arizona Department of Transportation site, called “Pull Aside, Stay Alive.”
If you or loved one is involved in an Arizona car accident, contact Zanes Law at (844) 9260-3753 for a free consultation. We can give you insight about how to handle insurance companies, obtain fair compensation and feel more in control.
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