With strong monsoon storms forecast in much of Arizona going into the weekend, be ready to pull aside and wait out extreme weather.
Officials from the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) are asking drivers to please heed this advice: Get off the highways when facing a dust storm. In almost no time, blowing dust can drop visibility to zero, especially where small dust channels afford drivers little or no opportunity to avoid this hazard.
Other tips from ADOT:
· If you encounter a dust storm, immediately check traffic around your vehicle (front, back and to the side) and begin slowing down.
· Don't wait until poor visibility makes it difficult to pull off the roadway safely; do it as soon as possible. Completely exit the highway if you can.
· Don't stop in a travel lane or in the emergency lane. Look for a safe place to pull completely off the paved portion of the roadway.
· Turn off all vehicle lights, including your emergency flashers. You don't want other vehicles approaching from behind to use your lights as a guide and crash into your vehicle.
· Set your emergency brake and take your foot off the brake.
· Stay in the vehicle with your seat belt buckled and wait for the storm to pass.
· Drivers of high-profile vehicles should be aware of changing weather conditions and reduce speed.
Monsoons can produce thunderstorms with sudden, heavy rainfall. Keep these tips in mind:
· Don't risk crossing a flooded wash, even if it doesn't look deep. Even a few inches of running water poses a serious risk.
· Don't drive around "Road Closed" signs. You risk your life and face being cited under state law.
· If traffic lights are out, treat an intersection as a four-way stop.
· Storm runoff can loosen boulders and rocks on slopes above highways. Stay alert in areas prone to falling rocks.
· Inspect your windshield wipers and replace them if necessary.
· Reduce your speed and maintain a safe distance between your vehicle and the one in front of you.
· Avoid sudden braking, which can cause you to slide on wet pavement. To slow down, take your foot off the gas pedal and brake slowly.
Real-time highway conditions are available on ADOT's Arizona Traveler Information site at az511.gov or by calling 511 and through ADOT's Twitter feed, @ArizonaDOT.