By Dallas Hammit / ADOT Deputy Director for Transportation
Summer is officially here and
it’s no surprise that Arizona
is in for some extreme
weather over the next few months
— soaring temperatures, monsoon
rain and dust storms are always in
the season’s forecast.
While no one can control the
weather that’s headed our way, we
all can plan ahead and take simple
precautions to stay safe.
Even if your vehicle has air conditioning, you should always
be ready for a potential breakdown or crash that could
force you to spend an extended amount of time stopped
on the road.
Besides prepping your vehicle — fueling up, testing the
battery, checking tire pressure and topping off vital engine
fluids — drivers should make sure they bring along an
emergency kit. It can include things like extra water, healthy
snacks, a fully charged cell phone (and cell phone charger),
an umbrella for shade, hats, sunglasses and
sunscreen. You’ll also want to have a good first-aid kit and
any necessary prescribed medication. Of course, safety gear
(reflective vests, flashlights, a travel tool kit and battery
cables) is also vital.
You can find additional tips at azdot.gov/extreme-heat
Monsoon storms can produce sudden, heavy rain. Drivers
should always be prepared and, if necessary, be ready to
wait out heavy rain, high winds and blowing dust.
If you find yourself driving during inclement weather, be sure
to turn on your headlights and, when roads are wet, reduce
speed and maintain a safe distance between your vehicle
and the one ahead.
Avoid areas where water is pooling in travel lanes. If your
vehicle appears to be hydroplaning, ease your foot off the
gas pedal until you regain traction rather than braking
suddenly, which can cause a vehicle to skid off the roadway.
Don’t risk crossing a flooded wash, even if it doesn’t look
deep. Just a few inches of running water can carry away a
vehicle, even a heavy pickup truck or SUV.
There’s even more safety advice at azdot.gov/monsoon
The No. 1 thing to remember about dust storms is to NOT
drive into one — avoid these walls of dense, blowing
dust by safely pulling off the road. Just as dangerous are the
smaller dust channels that can whip across roadways in an
instant, giving drivers little or no opportunity to avoid them.
If you encounter a dust storm or a dust channel,
immediately check traffic around your vehicle (front, back
and to the side) and begin slowing down. Do not wait until
poor visibility makes it difficult to safely pull off the roadway
— do it as soon as possible. Once you’re safely off the road,
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, possibly crashing into your
parked vehicle. Set your emergency brake, take your foot
off the brake and stay in your vehicle with your seat belt
buckled until the storm passes.
Find additional safety tips and videos on
Knowing what to do and having a plan could make a big
difference if you’re confronted with extreme weather. I
encourage you to visit the online safety resources listed
above and share the information with your loved ones.
Editor's Note: More safety messages from Dallas Hammit, ADOT's state engineer, are available at Driving Safety Home on azdot.gov.