Drivers play an important role in wildfire prevention

Pine trees

Drivers can help protect Arizona scenery by preventing wildfires.

A three-day weekend is coming up and that means a lot of people will be hitting the road…

It’s the perfect time to take a road trip, but it’s also wildfire season and we’ve all got to be a bit more careful in this dry, desert climate we live.

Earlier this week we provided some tips that focused on how you can safely drive (and pull your vehicle over) in areas with reduced visibility due to smoke. But, today we’re going to talk about what drivers can do to actually prevent fires from starting in the first place.

Yes, drivers play an important role in wildfire prevention!

Over half of the wildland fires in Arizona each year are human caused, according to State Forester Scott Hunt with the Arizona State Forestry Division.

“Roadside fires are common in Arizona and most are avoidable,” Hunt said. “The danger of roadside fires starting from a car pulling a trailer with improperly adjusted safety chains or the careless disposal of smoking materials is very real.”

Here are a few things you can do to reduce the threat of fire along Arizona’s roads:

  • Never park your vehicle on dry grass, or drive through tall grass
  • Never throw a lighted cigarette out the window of a vehicle
  • When pulling a trailer, attach safety chains securely; loose chains can drag on the pavement and cause sparks, igniting roadside fires
  • Do not park where vegetation is touching the underside of your vehicle
  • Look behind you before driving away to check for signs of a developing fire
  • Observe “Red Flag” warnings. Warnings are issued when weather conditions are conducive to the easy start and rapid spread of wildfires
  • Always use a spark arrestor in internal combustion engines
  • Driving into smoke can be dangerous; avoid active fires by calling 511 or log onto ADOT’s Traveler Information site at to seek alternate routes.

For more on wildfires, visit, the state’s online source for real-time emergency updates, preparedness and hazard information. Another excellent source for wildfire information is, which is supported by wildland fire agencies in Arizona as part of an interagency collaboration.