ADOT urging drivers to 'Pull Aside, Stay Alive' during dust storms

Posted: Updated:
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

PHOENIX -- Dust storms can be deadly for drivers who get caught in the middle of their fury.  That is why the Arizona Department of Transportation is trying to get out in front of the trouble.  Today the agency kicks off a public awareness campaign urging motorists to “Pull Aside – Stay Alive.” 

This is a collaborative effort between ADOT, the National Weather Service, the Arizona Department of Public Safety and the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety.  A public service announcement shows how quickly a dust storm can envelope the roadway. 

In the video, a vehicle travels in the eastbound lanes of Interstate10 from the Ahwatukee area into the corridor between Phoenix and Tucson.  Eventually, as the vehicle drives into the dust storm, conditions quickly go from daytime to seemingly night-like conditions.

The focus of this campaign is helping drivers recognize that pulling over and waiting out a dust storm is always the best option.

If possible, ADOT recommends drivers get off the freeway altogether. 

Other tips include:

  • If you encounter a dust storm, immediately check traffic 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. 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.

ADOT will watch several freeways closely during dust storms. 

The roads engineers say have the greatest potential for traffic trouble include I-10 from Phoenix to Tucson, I-10 from Phoenix to California, Interstate 8 from Casa Grande to Yuma, Pinal County Highways (SR 79), and Interstate 40 from Flagstaff to Holbrook.