(Courtesy of the U.S. Geological Survey)
Dust storms like the one pictured can make it impossible for drivers to see and cause hazardous road conditions. ADOT is warning drivers to avoid driving in monsoon storms.
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‘Pull Aside, Stay Alive’ during monsoon season
Staff Report~ 6/11/2014
PHOENIX – Pull Aside, Stay Alive. That’s the familiar message to drivers from the Arizona Department of Transportation as another summer monsoon season approaches.
For the third year, ADOT continues its efforts to educate drivers about the threat of dust storms as monsoon season officially begins in Arizona on June 15.
ADOT and partners are working on educating the public about the dangers of driving through a monsoon storm. The new public-education announcement focuses on a recent dust-related fatal crash along Interstate 10 between Phoenix and Tucson. The “911 Call” announcement illustrates what can happen to drivers who do not heed the “Pull Aside, Stay Alive” message. Audio of 911 calls from the crash are heard against visuals of emergency personnel moving among crushed vehicles and semi-trucks surrounded by blowing dust.
ADOT’s mission is to provide valuable information to drivers before they get caught in a low-visibility dust storm. The agency’s top recommendation is to avoid driving into a wall of dust at all costs.
“Driving into a dust storm is very dangerous, but the key is that oftentimes it can be avoided,” said ADOT Director John Halikowski. “Drivers must be ready to alter their plans if there is a threat of a dust storm. It’s better to change plans than try to power through dangerous conditions. But if you’re on the road and a dust storm suddenly appears near you, pull off the highway as quickly and safely as possible. Never drive through a dust storm. It’s not a risk worth taking.”
Because dust storms can develop very quickly, particularly along the Interstate 10 corridor between Phoenix and Tucson, ADOT uses several methods to get information to drivers. These include 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.
Throughout this week, which is Arizona Monsoon Awareness Week, ADOT will be using social media to engage Arizonans in spreading the word to “Pull Aside, Stay Alive.” There will be posts on the ADOT Blog (azdot.gov/blog), Facebook page (facebook.com/AZDOT) and Twitter account (twitter.com/ArizonaDOT).
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 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 are always the top factors in preventing crashes.