Virginia Auto Service

How to Stay Safe on the Road in a Dust Storm

It’s monsoon season in Phoenix, AZ and that means motorists could potentially have a run-in with a heavy dust storm. Often our dust storms are extremely dense and can severely limit motorists visibility. It is important for your safety, and the safety of others, that you know what to do if you happen to encounter a dust storm on your travels.

How to Stay Safe on the Road in a Dust Storm

There are two major kinds of dust-related hazards Arizona drivers face: dust storms/haboobs and dust channels. But what is the difference?

  • Dust storm– Easy to avoid as the massive height and span are seen miles in the distance giving motorists plenty of opportunity to exit the roadway or choose another route.
  • Dust channel– These consist of blowing dust that whips across the roadway engulfing your vehicle in low or no visibility without warning. These fast-moving blowing dust events can result in serious crashes because they give motorists little or no time to respond.

According to the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT), while blowing dust can occur anywhere in Arizona, there’s a stretch of Interstate 10 between Phoenix and Tucson where dust channels often suddenly develop, so ADOT is currently installing a first-of-its-kind dust detection zone from mileposts 209-219. They state that nearly half of all blowing dust-related crashes that occur on I-10 occur within a half-mile of milepost 214, northwest of Picacho Peak.

In 2012, ADOT began the “Pull Aside, Stay Alive” campaign to emphasize the importance of driving safety during a dust storm. These are their tips:

  1. Avoid driving into or through a dust storm.
  2. If you encounter a dust storm, immediately check traffic around your vehicle (front, back and to the side) and begin slowing down.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Turn off all vehicle lights, including your emergency flashers. You do not want other vehicles approaching from behind to use your lights as a guide, possibly crashing into your parked vehicle.
  6. Set your emergency brake and take your foot off the brake.
  7. Stay in the vehicle with your seatbelts buckled and wait for the storm to pass.
  8. Drivers of high-profile vehicles should be especially aware of changing weather conditions and travel at reduced speeds.

At Virginia Auto Service, we like to help people with their vehicles and road safety in any way that we can. We hope these tips, provided by ADOT, help you stay safer this monsoon and dust-storm season. We are your go-to in Phoenix, AZ for reliable, high-quality auto repair services. Call (602) 266-0200 or schedule an appointment online.