Where will you be when the dust settles?
That’s a question the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) is asking motorists this year as another summer monsoon season begins.
Each year, a variety of weather related dangers affect Arizona, New Mexico, and southwest Texas, especially from late spring into early autumn. Through a collaborative effort between National Weather Service offices serving the states of Arizona and New Mexico, which includes offices located in Tucson, Phoenix, Flagstaff, Las Vegas, Albuquerque, El Paso/Santa Teresa, and Midland/Odessa, the time period from June 15th through September 30th has been defined as “The Monsoon”.
For the fourth consecutive year, ADOT is rolling out its “Pull Aside, Stay Alive” dust storm public awareness campaign in an ongoing effort to educate drivers about the year-round threat of dust storms as monsoon season officially began in Arizona last week. Dust storms pose a serious public safety risk because they can strike out of nowhere. Motorists can protect themselves if they plan ahead and know the safe actions to take when the dust hits.
This year, ADOT has created new television and radio public-education announcements that ask drivers if they know what to do if they get caught in a sudden dust storm event. The new TV public service announcement depicts a young driver following all the safety recommendations when she sees a dust storm while driving along a highway.
ADOT’s mission is to provide useful and memorable safety information to drivers before they get caught in a low-visibility dust storm. This year, the agency’s top recommendation is to avoid driving into a wall of dust at all costs.
“As the monsoon arrives, this year we’re asking drivers to do the smart thing, the safe thing, and plan ahead for possible blowing dust and limited visibility along the highway,” said ADOT Director John Halikowski.
“It’s better to alter travel plans rather than attempting to drive through dust storms. It’s a risk you don’t have to take.”
Dust storms develop quickly and dust-related crashes can occur, particularly along the Interstate 10 corridor between Phoenix and Tucson. To advise drivers of approaching storms, ADOT employs a range of strategies—including electronic highway message boards, social and traditional media, communication with ADOT staff, and law enforcement officers in the field, television, and radio advertising, and close coordination with partnering agencies—to keep information flowing to motorists.
Please visit pullasidestayalive.org for the new public-education video, along with videos from past years. The website also includes a safety tip sheet.
Tips For Drivers Who Encounter a Dust Storm
Avoid driving into or through a dust storm.
If you encounter a dust storm, check traffic immediately around your vehicle (front, back, and to the side) and begin slowing down.
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.
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 your 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 in high wind.
A driver’s alertness and safe driving ability are always the top factors in preventing crashes. It is your responsibility to avoid distracted or impaired driving.
Sand from the desert
An oppressive wind blowing
Good grief, pull aside