Monsoon season is the most beautiful and most devastating time of year for Arizonans.
The season, which includes flash floods and haboobs, can cause weather to change in an instant. That's why it's important to prepare yourself and your vehicle so you're not stranded - or worse.
AAA advises drivers to check the following on their vehicles before rainfall hits:
• Windshield wipers. Arizona's dry heat and direct sun exposure can cause wipers to crack and break.
• Headlights and brake lights. Bad weather reduces visibility. Ensure all lights are working properly so you can see and be seen.
• Brakes. Faulty brakes can lengthen stopping distance. Make sure brakes are in proper working order to be able to stop safely.
• Tire tread. As tread wears, tires lose their ability to grip a wet surface. To check for adequate tread, place a quarter head-first into the grooves of your tire. If any space above Washington's head is visible, it's time to replace the tire.
• Insurance. You generally need a comprehensive policy to be protected against storm damage. Liability coverage only, for example, does not cover damage from hail, wind or rain.
Some driving safety tips:
• Slow down. Roads are most slippery 10 to 15 minutes after rain starts to fall. That's because rainwater mixes with oil, dirt and grease, making it harder to control a vehicle.
• Don't tailgate. Stopping distances are greater on wet, slippery roads.
• Allow extra time to get to your destination. That way you won't be in a hurry, and can take proper precautions.
• Refrain from driving through flooded areas. It only takes a few inches of rushing water to move a vehicle. Arizona's "Stupid Motorist Law" permits rescue agencies to collect up to $2,000 for water rescues if motorists get stuck after purposely driving in flooded areas.
• Do not take photos while driving. That wall of dust moving across the highway would make for an amazing photo or video - if you weren't driving. Keep your eyes on the road in front of you, hands on the wheel and mind on the task at hand at all times.
• If you are caught in a severe storm and cannot drive safely, move completely off the road and stop with the lights off. Remove your foot from the brake to ensure brake lights are not lit. This will prevent other drivers from following your tail- lights, thinking you are still on the road. Never stop in the travel portion of the roadway.
Valerie Vinyard is a public affairs specialist for AAA Arizona. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or 258-0518.