Deadly dust storms on the highway; ‘Pull Aside, Stay Alive’

ST. GEORGE – Where will you be when the dust stirs and when it settles? Dust storms develop quickly and dust-related vehicle crashes can occur anywhere.

For the fourth consecutive year, Arizona Department of Transportation has rolled 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 is underway.

Although this alert derives from a campaign out of Arizona, dust storms are not unique to Arizona.  In April 2014, a dust storm in Parowan caused two simultaneous accidents involving a total of 13 cars. Again in May 2014, a sporadic dust storm on I-15, 3 miles south of the Panguitch exit, created poor visibility cited as a factor in collisions involving six vehicles.

Dust storms pose a serious public safety risk because they can strike out of nowhere. Motorists can protect themselves, ADOT’s campaign says, if they plan ahead and know what safe actions to take when the dust hits.

This year, ADOT’s top recommendation is to avoid driving into a wall of dust at all costs.

“We hope motorists have heard the message that driving into a dust storm is dangerous and should be avoided,” ADOT Director John Halikowski said. “… 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. It’s better to alter travel plans rather than attempting to drive through dust storms.”

Please visit Pull Aside – Stay Alive 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 seat belts 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

For more information on weather-related information on monsoon safety, please visit the Monsoon Safety Awareness website.

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1 Comment

  • anybody home June 29, 2015 at 8:07 pm

    Why is the dateline June 17?

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