It seems that there have been a higher number of dust storms rolling through the desert states, or perhaps they are just being reported more. One thing for sure, though, dust storms are dangerous for motorists.
A dust storm usually arrives suddenly as an advancing wall of dust and debris which can be miles long and thousands of feet high. Needless to say, visibility is very quickly reduced to zero making driving conditions hazardous.
Dust storms usually only last for a couple of minutes, but the actions you take during the storm are very important to keep you out of harms way.
What to do if You Run into a Dust Storm
If you run into a dust storm it is important to take immediate action and get off the roadway as soon as possible:
- Reduce your speed immediately and drive carefully off the roadway. If you can’t pull off the roadway, proceed at a speed suitable for visibility. Remember to turn on your lights and sound the horn occasionally to help other motorists identify your position. Use the painted center line to help guide you safely down the road and get off the roadway as soon as you have a safe place to do so.
- After you are off the paved portion of the roadway, stop, turn off lights, set the emergency brake, take your foot off of the brake pedal to be sure the tail lights are not illuminated. Many accidents have been caused by motorists rear-ending other vehicles because they are following the tail lights.
- Keep your radio on to listen for reports on the weather conditions.
- Wait until visibility is at least 300 feet before re-entering the roadway.
- Be prepared for heavy rain, as this often follows dust storms.
Remember, safety should always be your top priority. When you are faced with sudden, severe weather, proceed down the roadway with caution and get off the roads as soon as it is safe to do so. No load is worth risking your safety or the safety of other motorists you share the roadways with.