We typically have it pretty easy here in Arizona as far as weather and driving go, but when it rains, or when you go up north to see the snow in the winter, driving is very different, and potentially dangerous road conditions when you aren’t used to them can be a real challenge.
Every year, we have tens of thousands of car accidents in Arizona because of poor weather conditions. According to the Arizona Department of Transportation (AZDOT), of the 103,000 car crashes that occurred in the state in 2011, 11 percent were because of poor weather conditions.
Drivers in Arizona experience a wide variety of weather conditions through the year: Rain, cloudy skies, snow, high winds, hail, sun glare, lightning and thunder, blowing sand or dirt and smoke or smog. Sometimes, we even have tornadoes in Arizona. 2010 was a particularly bad year, during which we had 8 tornadoes in just one day.
Driving in the rain is always a major challenge, as is driving in the snow. Here’s a quick look at a couple of driving risks caused by poor weather conditions.
#1: Lack of Visibility: Visibility is typically effected negatively when you attempt to drive in poor weather conditions. Dust, rain and sun glare can cause serious problems, especially if you are not properly maintaining your vehicle
Check out the windshield wipers, and get them replaced if they are worn out!
#2: Losing Control of the Car: Driving in snow can be a major problem as the vehicle can lose traction on the road because of the ice formed on the road. High winds can also affect your control over the vehicle as well, especially when you’re driving at a high speeds.
Make sure all the safety features on the car are working well. Drive slowly and cautiously when driving in the snow or rain.
When Driving in Winter
- Have the car serviced at a local garage shop before going where there is snow. In particular, ask the mechanic to pay special attention to the exhaust systems, thermostat, ignition, battery, defroster, brakes and the heater.
- Plan your travel route well in advance; inform a friend or family member of your plans. Make sure your fuel tank is at least 75 percent full. Check the antifreeze in the radiator.
- Use special snow tires or studded tires when driving on icy roads. In Arizona, vehicle owners are permitted to use studded tires when driving on the highways from October 1 to May 1.
When Driving in the Summer
It can get really, really hot during the summer around here. Most Arizonians are used to the heat, but it is important to take a few precautions when driving in the summer.
- Carry water with you for yourself, the passengers and pets (if any). Very important!
- Take the car in in to have the engine coolant levels and the air conditioning system checked. The car mechanic checks other important things such as the oil level, engine belts, tires, windshield wiper blades and so on.
- Carry a first aid kit, sunscreen, cell phone charger, a proper road map and wear sunglasses.