Weather conditions can change quickly, be aware of your surroundings
While monsoon season officially began June 15, the first major storms hit the Phoenix area earlier this month and served as an important reminder for off-highway vehicle (OHV) operators to monitor the weather forecast and be prepared for changing conditions.
The severity of monsoon storms varies greatly, from a minor dust storm to a violent thunderstorm capable of producing hail, lightning and/or flash flooding. These weather conditions can greatly impact how OHV operators must maneuver their machines and require everyone to know how to ride safely and appropriately depending on current conditions.
“Always check the forecast before heading out, and if severe weather or storms are likely, the best thing to do is postpone your outing for another day,” said David Rigo, OHV law enforcement program coordinator for the Arizona Game and Fish Department. “However, if you’re already out and storms begin appearing nearby, there are key actions you can take to stay safe.”
The Arizona Game and Fish Department encourages OHV enthusiasts to take note of the following tips to stay safe during monsoon season:
- Always wear proper safety gear, including a helmet (required for those under 18), eye protection, long sleeves, pants, over-the-ankle boots and gloves.
- Seek shelter indoors as storms are developing or are nearby.
- Never cross running water. While it may look shallow, the water may be deep enough that it could push the vehicle downstream, or you may get stuck in loose sediment.
- Drive slowly in order to not lose control on muddied trails.
- To avoid being struck by lightning, avoid open fields, high land, trees, poles or other tall objects and standing bodies of water.
- Be aware of and avoid flash-flood zones.
While it may be tempting to go out on an OHV after a rainstorm, the department advises against operating on wet or muddy roads. When the area is wet, riding can tear up the roads and trails making them impassable for others. In addition, OHVs can do serious damage to meadows, streams and other areas important to wildlife and Arizona’s water supply.
Always stay on roads and trails, and remember that even a lighter-weight OHV with low-pressure tires can do lasting damage.
For more information on operating an OHV in Arizona, visit www.azgfd.gov/OHV.