PHOENIX — "Pull Aside, Stay Alive"
That's the message from the Arizona Department of Transportation, the Governor's Office of Highway Safety, the Arizona Department of Public Safety and the National Weather Service as the state enters monsoon season. The partnership of agencies has launched a public awareness campaign, including television and radio public-education programs, to aid drivers who encounter dust storms.
"The key message is pull over and come to a stop – don't think you can just drive through a dust storm," said ADOT Director John Halikowski. "Avoiding driving through a dust storm is the best safety tip. But we know these storms can strike hard and fast, reducing visibility to zero. In those cases, drivers need to pull as far off the roadway as possible and wait for the dust to clear."
Dust-related crashes occur most years, particularly along the I-10 corridor between Phoenix and Tucson. To advise drivers of approaching storms, ADOT is using a range of strategies – including social and traditional media, communication with officers and staff in the field, television and radio advertising, and close coordination with partnering agencies – to keep information flowing to motorists.
ADOT, with the partnering agencies, has established www.PullAsideStayAlive.org to showcase the public-education video and reinforce driver tips. The website also includes a printable tip sheet, which ADOT encourages users to print and post.
Along with the website, during Arizona Monsoon Awareness Week, which began June 10, ADOT is using social media to engage Arizonans in spreading the word to Pull Aside, Stay Alive. In addition to blogs and Facebook posts, ADOT is launching a "Haboob Haiku" challenge (Twitter #HaboobHaiku), asking people to show their creativity in educating the public about the dangers of driving in dust storms.
Tips for drivers who encounter a dust storm:
- Avoid driving into or through a dust storm.
- Do not wait until poor visibility makes it difficult to safely pull off the roadway—do it as soon as possible. Completely exit the highway if you can.
- If you encounter a dust storm, check traffic immediately around your vehicle (front, back and to the side) and begin slowing down.
- Do not stop in a travel lane or in the emergency lane; look for a safe place to pull completely off the paved portion of the roadway.
- Stop the vehicle in a position ensuring it is a safe distance from the main roadway and away from where other vehicles may travel.
- Turn off all vehicle lights, including your emergency flashers.
- Set your emergency brake and take your foot off the brake.
- Stay in the vehicle with your seatbelts buckled and wait for the storm to pass.
- Drivers of high-profile vehicles should be especially aware of changing weather conditions and travel at reduced speeds.
- A driver's alertness and safe driving ability is still the number one factor to prevent crashes.