ADOT, other agencies collaborate during annual Dust Storm Workshop

dust storm workshop

This year's dust storm workshop was held last month in Casa Grande.

By Dallas Hammit
State Engineer/Deputy Director for Transportation

By now, you should be familiar with Pull Aside, Stay Alive – the public awareness campaign designed to educate drivers about what to do (and what not to do) when they encounter a dust storm.

Since ADOT, along with the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety, the Arizona Department of Public Safety and the National Weather Service launched the effort three years ago, many drivers have gotten the message that it’s better to wait out a dust storm rather than to risk driving through one. I encourage you to review and help spread the safe-driving tips that have become a part of the campaign’s core; however, today I want to give you a look at what ADOT and other agencies are working toward in regards to dust storm safety.

You might not know that Pull Aside, Stay Alive was born out of a 2012 dust storm workshop attended by agencies from around the state. That workshop has become an annual event, and this year’s meeting, held last month in Casa Grande, focused on some long-term goals related to helping drivers stay safe before, during and after a dust storm.

The 2015 workshop included presentations on the work that’s happening to better detect and predict dust storms – we’re seeing some interesting developments on that front. Dust storm response and mitigation were among the topics discussed, and ADOT’s very own Research Center was on the agenda with a presentation on a recent study on dust storm communication. We’ve learned through that study that there is a high degree of familiarity with the “Pull Aside, Stay Alive” campaign. The day wrapped up with a group discussion that concentrated on how to advance the efforts.

This collaboration is so important because no single group or agency can prevent dust storms, but together we can find ways to minimize the danger. As we head toward the summer months, ADOT will continue this year to build and grow awareness with Arizona drivers about the dangers of dust storms and what to do if they encounter one.