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Monsoon and Highway Litter Don’t Mix
The rain is pelting the windshield. The wind is blowing so hard you fight with your steering wheel. In the middle of it all, you try to dodge that cardboard box that just tumbled in front of your car and see around the plastic grocery bag that just latched onto your wipers. You don’t want to swerve to the side either, because you might hit that old tire abandoned on the shoulder.

Summer storms that occur during the Arizona monsoon introduce a new layer of peril for Valley drivers, particularly when litter finds its way into the mix. Don’t Trash Arizona, a joint effort between the Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG) and the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT), is reminding Valley drivers that our seasonal storms pack enough of a punch to send litter airborne, which increases the risk of car accidents during an already dicey time of year.

Making matters worse, litter left on our roadways can clog storm drains during heavy downpours. And, the toxic chemicals found in commonly littered items such as cigarette butts and plastic packaging can seep into our water supply when mixed with heavy rains.  

While the Transportation Research Board estimates that about 45 percent of highway litter is unintentional, litter is still litter. The litter found on Valley highways is enough to fill 9,250 trash bags each month and costs about $3 million to clean up each year.

There is a bright side. You can be part of the solution.

To avoid being the source of trashed highways, significant traffic delays or even devastating accidents, Don’t Trash Arizona has three helpful tips for staying safe on the roads this monsoon season:

  • Use litterbags. Summer is a great time to hit the open road with the family. With road trips come snacks, which can easily become litter. Instead of throwing your empty chip bag out the window, toss it in a free, reusable litterbag provided by Don’t Trash Arizona. With the help of these litterbags you can keep our desert litter free and safe this monsoon season.
  • Secure your load. Before heading out, be sure to use large straps or tarps to secure any load you may be pulling. Check the bed of your pickup truck for any loose trash before getting on the road, and keep the inside of your car clear of empty bags or loose paper so they don’t fly out onto the road once you open your windows.
  • See a Haboob? Pull aside and stay alive. Heavy dust storms and torrential downpour can reduce visibility. In these situations, check traffic around you and then safely pull off the roadway. If you are parked alongside the road, turn off all lights, including emergency flashers, and take your foot off the brake pedal, setting the emergency brake in place. Be sure to have all passengers remain in the vehicle with their seat belts fastened while waiting for the storm to pass.
Don’t Trash Arizona offers more information on the hazards of unsecured loads on our website,
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