As temperatures heat up, the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) asks drivers to take extra precautions to prevent roadside wildfires.
Low humidity, high winds and hot temperatures are a dangerous combination that can lead to the rapid spread of wildfires. More than 50 percent of wildfires in Arizona are human caused, according to the Arizona State Forestry Division.
“We are all responsible for preventing wildfires. Drivers should take a few extra precautions to prevent roadside fires from igniting,” according to Arizona State Forester Jeff Whitney. “It can be as simple as ensuring your trailer tow chains are secure and not dragging on the ground.”
ADOT suggests motorists follow these tips to prevent wildfires along Arizona’s roadways:
- Avoid driving or parking your vehicle in tall grass.
- Never throw a lighted cigarette out of a vehicle.
- When pulling a trailer, attach safety chains securely; loose chains can drag on the pavement and cause sparks, igniting roadside fires.
- Look behind you before driving away from fire-sensitive locations such as areas with tall grass or campsites to check for signs of a developing fire.
- Observe “Red Flag” fire weather warnings. These warnings are issued when weather conditions are conducive to the easy start and rapid spread of wildfires.
- Always use a spark arrestor on internal combustion engines.
Drivers should also remember these tips when driving through smoke from wildfires:
- Drive with lights on low beam. High beams will reflect back off the smoke and can reduce your visibility even more.
- Look out for slow-moving and parked vehicles. Other cars may be traveling slowly due to reduced visibility. Emergency vehicles may be parked along the side of the road.
- Increase the distance between your vehicle and the vehicle in front of you. Don’t rush or speed to get out of the smoke.
- If you’re having trouble seeing the roadway, use the right edge of the pavement or the painted edge line stripe as a guide.
For more on wildfires, visit AzEIN.gov, the state’s online source for real-time emergency updates, preparedness and hazard information.
Another source for wildfire information is wildlandfire.az.gov, which is supported by a collaboration of federal and state agencies.