It’s no wonder why so many folks choose to retire to Arizona. The Valley of the Sun has so many beautiful days, save for the four months of blazing temperatures. And just when you begin to think rain will never fall, Mother Nature brings in a shower that inevitably lowers the temperature slightly, making the desert landscape a little greener than before. Yet, driving in the often-unusual weather of Arizona is a whole other experience! If you’ve never seen a haboob or dust storm, you may be a little intimidated at the wall of dust headed toward your car at first. Or, if you’re a native of the state who’s never driven in snow, that can certainly take you by surprise as well. Get in your car, fasten your seat belt, and be prepared for driving in the Grand Canyon State with our tips:
See Everything Clearly
Being able to see the road clearly is vital to driving safely. Things to help improve your view of the road include wearing sunglasses, repairing any chips or cracks on your windshield, and making sure your windshield wipers work in wet weather.
Sunglasses can help any time of year whether the skies are clear with another sunny Arizona day or the occasional ominous overcast sky. The glare from another car’s windshield, metal, and even a wet road can impair your vision behind the wheel and can cause an accident. Polarized sunglasses help to reduce glare, enhance colors on the road, and make objects on the road easier to see. Driving without sunglasses may also affect your health, leading to fatigue and eventual vision problems.
That chip that you got so startlingly, as a result of a rock hitting your windshield on the 202, should be fixed right away before it expands and becomes a full-blown crack. Cracks that stretch across the windshield and into the area between the steering wheel and top of the windshield can greatly reduce your view of the road and even earn you a citation from law enforcement. Chips can spread rather quickly and should be repaired within a week of the occurrence. Repair them by having them professionally filled before they get worse. If you have a crack in your windshield, be sure to have it replaced as well.
In a state where the average rainfall only totals about 36 days, windshield wipers are still vital to your safety while driving. Have wiper blades inspected every time you get an oil change and expect to replace them about every 6 months or if they become cracked or worn.
Finally, if you can’t see the road, you probably shouldn’t be driving. Every summer from June to September, Monsoon season is in full swing. This amazing weather phenomenon is breathtaking but with it, comes big walls of dust that make everything from breathing to driving more difficult. These extraordinary dust storms, often referred to as a haboob, travel rather quickly and cover the Valley in just a matter of minutes. Because of the amount of dust and dirt that are in the air, seeing the road is challenging and dangerous.
Driving in showery weather is sometimes unavoidable, but if it’s really coming down and visibility is greatly reduced, wait a few minutes and allow it to let up. In our state, it doesn’t typically pour for long periods, but drivers should still know how to drive in the rain in Arizona. Follow our tips for driving in the rain the Copper State:
- Increase following distance. Slick roads make stopping more difficult. Leave extra space between your car and the one in front of you.
- Be aware of slick roads. The longer it’s been since the last rain, the more buildup of grease and motor oil, making roads slippery when wet.
- Turn on your lights. The best way to make sure you can see and be seen is by using your headlights.
- Avoid using cruise control. Using cruise control on wet roads can cause your vehicle to speed up if it begins to hydroplane, which may cause you to lose control.
- Don’t panic. If your car does begin to hydroplane, remain calm and do not hit the brakes. Take your foot off the accelerator and attempt to keep the steering wheel straight.
- Stay close to the center of the road. Puddles form on the edge of the road and can be really deep or conceal dangerous potholes.
- Do not enter flooded areas. If water is too deep, you can flood your engine, immobilizing your vehicle. Additionally, if you drive into flood waters despite barricades and warnings from posted signs, you can be fined under the “Stupid Motorist Law” aka ARS 28-910.
Driving in a hail storm or through snow this time of year is not unusual, especially for cities in Northern Arizona. If you’re headed up north or just passing through, be prepared for driving in wet and cold weather including snow. Here’s how:
- Check your tire tread. If the tread looks worn or you’ve driven more than 50,000 miles on one set, replace them. You can also have snow tires installed. Snow tires increase traction and are made to handle driving in extreme weather.
- Ensure windshield wipers are functioning and blades are not dry or cracked.
- Check to make sure all lights are fully operational, including your hazards.
- Have your vehicle inspected professionally. Be sure the technician checks the tire pressure, tests the battery, and confirms the heater is working.
- Take along an emergency kit just in case you encounter any trouble on the road.
Spring in Arizona can go from hot to cold to hot again. In any case, Spring is our forewarning that Summer is coming, and we should be prepared no matter the temperature. Now is the time to prepare your car for the upcoming Summer weather. Check out our Summer Car Maintenance Checklist and get ahead of the crowds and high temperatures.