As Arizona residents, we welcome monsoon season with the hope that we’ll have a few days with breaks from triple digits, refreshing rain and the occasional light show that is ushered in with the thunderstorms. But safety is key even in the arid desert region of Arizona. Should you encounter a dust storm, thunderstorm, or torrential downpours, you should be ready. If the worry of your safety isn’t foremost on your mind, think about surviving flood waters and then having to pay for your stupidity in taking the chance to begin with. Enter the Stupid Motorist Law? Ever heard of the Stupid Motorist Law? It could cost you. If you are lucky enough to survive after ignoring clear postings warning you about the dangers of rising water, this Arizona law could end up hitting you hard in the wallet. Some Arizona residents who ignored those warnings this weekend are lucky to have escaped with their lives, but may face a stiff penalty as a lesson over and above the frightening experience of being swept away and then stranded and helpless.
Typical of monsoon season, this weekend we experienced some heavy winds, dust storms, rain, thunderstorms and lightning to go with it. Many people were faced with the decision of whether to cross what seemed like a mere inch of two or water covering the road. While flooding in general is not a problem for Arizona, flash floods are. Many people expect that flash flooding will occur around lakes and streams but do not pay attention to local roadways and washes. Washes are particularly troublesome as they gather rain quickly and gather a lot of force during periods of heavy rain and for a while after the rain has stopped. Think your big truck or high profile vehicle can withstand it? So did the two teenagers who decided to take a Bronco through a few inches of what they saw as harmless pooling of water on the road this past weekend. They had only made it a few feet across the flooded road when they found themselves being swept away downstream and struggling to get out before the flood waters engulfed the vehicle. Lucky enough to escape and cling to trees, they had to be rescued by helicopter. Now, like many other residents in and around the valley, they face charges under this law.
This law allows the emergency responding services, whether government or private, to recoup the costs of any rescue associated with a driver ignoring clear warnings or barricades due to flooded areas. So, enjoy the beautiful monsoon season in Arizona—but heed the warnings and keep yourself safe above everything else and your bank account full. Not everyone is charged under this law, but the potential alone should give you pause. In the meantime, enjoy the beautiful monsoon season and experience it from the safety 0f your home if possible, and if not, a few minutes extra to let the danger pass is worth the wait!