Arizona drivers will likely encounter a dust storm during the monsoon months of mid-June and the end of September. Understanding what to do when caught off guard by a dust storm can save you from experiencing a deadly accident. The Arizona Department of Transportation developed a list of tips to inform drivers on how to handle an Arizona dust storm. The list is called “Pull Aside, Stay Alive” and is part of the dust-related hazard awareness campaign.
Pull Aside, Stay Alive – Dust Storm Safety
As an Arizona driver driving during the monsoon months, you should know the safety precautions to take if an Arizona dust storm appears:
- Check the traffic on the road you are currently on before moving off for safety.
- Safely pull to the side of the road and try to get off the roadway completely. If you’re on the highway, try to completely exit the highway as this will be safer.
- Do not stop in travel or emergency lanes. Be sure to turn off the paved portion of the road is safer to avoid getting into an accident. This means going completely off the paved road and into the dirt or grass on the right side of the road.
- When you pull completely off the road safely, you should turn off all vehicle lights to avoid vehicles approaching your car.
- Put on your emergency break after you turn off your car and wait for the storm to pass.
- DO NOT unbuckle your seatbelt even if you did pull off the roadway.
The dust storms that occur during the monsoon months are very dense and can be massive in height and span miles in the distance. If drivers come across a dust storm while on the road, it is important to find a safe place to pull over to wait it out. The poor visibility makes it difficult for drivers to continue driving through Arizona dust storms, comparatively worse than normal rain storms. Be sure to teach your teen drivers these precautions.
Different Types of Dust-Related Hazards in Arizona
There are two common types of dust-related hazards that Arizona drivers have the potential to face and learn how to handle safely while driving.
Dust Storm: They are massive in height and span many miles wide. Arizona drivers that encounter these dust storms are given enough time to exit the road and highways or choose another route to their destination. Arizona Dust storms look like a huge wall when viewed from a distance.
Dust Channel: They are a constant flow of dust that whips across roadways and can engulf vehicles. This will cause drivers with low visibility or no visibility without warning. Dust channels lead to the most severe vehicle crashes because motorists have no chance to react quickly.
According to the ADOT, dust channels can occur anywhere in Arizona. On Interstate 10, there is a stretch of road between Phoenix and Tucson where dust channels often occur. The goal of the Arizona Department of Transportation to help reduce the amounts of accidents during this stretch of road is early detection.
The ADOT has placed dust detection zones between mileposts 209 and 219, between Eloy and Picacho. This is a part of the FASTLANE grant from the Federal Highway Administration that places multiple short-range and one long-range dust-detection device.