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Jun 11, 2013 10:03 AM by Samantha Ptashkin

Monsoon Safety: how to avoid becoming a "stupid motorist"

TUCSON- When the clouds roll in and lightning strikes, Tucson roads turn dangerous.

"It's hard to tell how fast the water is going to rise," says Deputy Tracy Suitt of the Pima County Sheriff's Department.

Some drivers get lucky crossing the water, but chances are if you don't play it safe, you'll end up stranded. "I've seen some washes where it's just a little trickle and then a few moments later there's a big flood coming your way," Suitt says.

Deputy Suitt says if there is water on the road, your best bet is to take another route. "Especially at night, you can't tell how deep that water is, so why not avoid it all together," Suitt says.

If you can't find another way, pull over to the side of the road, until the storm subsides. "Turn off your lights because you don't want anyone else to come up behind you thinking you're still driving," Suitt says.

The same advice goes for drivers who find themselves in the middle of a dust storm along I-10. "When you see a wall of dust approaching, that is the time to take action and pull off to the side of the roadway," says Dustin Krugel of ADOT.

Krugel says the road between Tucson and Casa Grande is especially prone to dust storms.

ADOT, along with its partnering agencies, has established www.PullAsideStayAlive.org to showcase the public-education video and to reinforce driver safety messages. The website also includes a tip sheet, which ADOT encourages drivers to print and keep handy in their vehicle.

To advise drivers of approaching storms, ADOT employs a range of strategies - including electronic highway message boards, social and traditional media, communication with ADOT staff and law enforcement officers in the field, television and radio advertising and close coordination with partnering agencies - to keep information flowing to motorists.

The most important thing to remember when driving in a dust storm or during heavy rains is to go slowly and be smart.

Suitt says drivers who pass through flood barricades and get stuck, could face up to a $2,000 penalty, but even worse, it's a mistake that could cost you your life.

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