Wonder why you should turn off your vehicle lights, once you’ve pulled aside?

Tractor trailers on I-10 head towards a dust storm.

If you encounter a dust storm, you're encouraged to "Pull Aside, Stay Alive.

On Monday, we kicked off Arizona Monsoon Awareness Week with a brand new video, an invitation to #HaboobHaiku and a list of tips for drivers who encounter a dust storm…

You know that list, right? You can find it easily at PullAsideStayAlive.org, and it offers some really crucial advice.

We share it every year around this time to make sure motorists are ready for the dust storm season ahead. However, one of the tips seems to always get a lot of questions, so we thought we’d tackle it here today.

We’re talking about the guideline that suggests drivers turn off all vehicle lights, including emergency flashers, once they have pulled safely off the road.

So, why should you turn off your vehicle lights, once you’ve pulled aside?

Arizona Department of Public Safety spokesman Bart Graves explains that when a dust storm hits, visibility can be reduced to zero very quickly.

“In a dust storm situation, the sunlight is completely blocked,” he said. “It’s like nightfall, without the visibility of nightfall.”

Graves says that when a vehicle is pulled off the highway and its lights are on, other motorists will likely think the car is traveling on the road and will try to “follow” the lights. Because of the reduced visibility and confusion that a dust storm creates, those other motorists won’t necessarily realize that the vehicle is stopped off the roadway and may wind up crashing into the parked car.

“If you keep your lights on, even if you’re off the highway … you may be struck at a high rate of speed, because they think your car is moving,” Graves said.

Graves advises drivers to turn off all vehicle lights, once they’ve safely pulled off the road. Drivers should then set their emergency brake and take their foot off the brake. After that, motorists need to stay in the vehicle with their seat belts buckled until the storm has passed.

When pulling off the highway, Graves said that drivers should pull over to the right (not to the left, “that’s an extremely dangerous spot,” Graves said) as far off the road as possible.

One of the biggest mistakes people make is thinking they can easily just power through a dust storm, Graves said.

“We’ve seen these situations where the visibility decreases rapidly,” Graves said. “That’s a very dangerous situation to be in.”

For a complete list of safe driving tips, visit PullAsideStayAlive.org, and please share with friends and family.