Pull Aside • Stay Alive

At ADOT we always want to give drivers a warning of what’s coming up on the road ahead...

Whether it’s an impending freeway closure or a new type of traffic signal, we try our very best to get the word out ahead of time so motorists know what to expect.

But, sometimes something will impact our roads (and the ability to drive them) quickly and without much notice, making it all the more difficult to get the message out.

Dust storms absolutely fall under this category.

As you can see in the video above, these weather phenomena arrive suddenly and bring a blinding dust that can quickly reduce visibility to near zero. They make driving conditions hazardous and can cause crashes that may involve chain collisions and massive pileups on highways.

Ultimately, dust storms are an act of nature. While we don’t get much advance notice that they’re on the way, we can at least learn about these storms and know what to do when we encounter one.

Which brings us to this week’s theme: Pull Aside • Stay Alive.

You’ll hear that a lot from us over the next few days as we devote the entire week to monsoon and dust storm awareness.

That’s right ... this whole week will be focused on staying safe during the monsoon and dust storm season. We’ve got a lot planned for you here on the blog and on our Facebook and Twitter pages, too, so you’ll want to stay tuned!

But, first up, we’ve got some tips for drivers. Motorists play an important role in their own safety and the safety of others when operating vehicles during a dust storm ... here’s what to do when encountering a low- or no-visibility 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 No. 1 factor to prevent crashes.