Dust storms typically strike with little or no warning, often reducing driver visibility to near-zero levels and making driving conditions extremely hazardous.
In recent weeks, major dust storms have hit California, Arkansas and Arizona. Unfortunately, many motorists choose to continue driving in hopes that conditions will quickly improve. That can be a fatal mistake. When a dust storm strikes, the last place you want to be is on the road. Drivers need to wait out the dust storm off the road, not on it.
Here are some safety tips from the National Weather Service you can pass along to fleet drivers.
- If you observe dense dust blowing across or approaching a roadway, pull your vehicle off the pavement as far as possible. Then stop the vehicle, turn off the lights, set the emergency brake, and take your foot off of the brake pedal to be sure the taillights aren’t illuminated.
- Don’t enter the dust storm area if you can avoid it.
- If you can’t pull off the roadway, proceed at a speed suitable for visibility, turn on lights, and sound your horn occasionally. Use the painted centerline to help guide you. Look for a safe place to pull off the roadway.
- Never stop on the traveled portion of the roadway.
- Make sure all your lights are turned off after you park. Vehicles approaching from the rear and using the advance car’s lights as a guide have inadvertently left the roadway and in some instances collided with the parked vehicle.
The moment you realize you’re in the middle of a dust storm, your No. 1 priority should be to pull your vehicle safely off the road.
To view an Arizona Department of Transportation PSA about dust storms, click on the photo or link below the headline. Keep in mind that dust storms can lead to multiple-vehicle pileups that have tragic consequences, as was the case earlier this month in Arkansas. To view a news video about that dust storm, click here.