ADOT warns drivers to stay off the road during dust storms

ADOT warns drivers to stay off the road during dust storms

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PHOENIX -

The monsoon season officially kicks off Saturday and that means we'll probably be seeing dust storms in the next few weeks.

These storms can be deadly if you're out in your car when they hit.

Being on the road when a dust storm hits is not a safe place to be.  Visibility can get so low you can't see the hood of your car.  That's why the Arizona Department of Transportation is warning drivers to stay off the road if you can during a dust storm.

A blinding dust storm caused a 30 car pileup along the Interstate 10 near Picacho Peak in October 2011, leaving a Texas man dead in the chain reaction crash.

 "You know it's hard to predict -- we don't know what kind of a summer we're going to have," said ADOT's Doug Nintzel. "We just want drivers to be ready."

Olga Torres got caught in a dust storm on I-10 last monsoon season with her children in the car.

"I stayed inside the car and just pulled over," she said.  "Very hard to see."

If you do find yourself driving in the middle of a dust storm, the first thing to do is to look around your car.  Check your mirrors to make sure there are no other vehicles right around you. Then slow down and pull off to the side of the road. And not just onto the shoulder -- all the way off the pavement.

Then turn off your lights so other cars don't try to follow you.  That's what causes pileups.

"Drivers need to take this seriously -- it's not just something that you say -- oh it will happen to somebody else.  These things do happen and you have to be ready," said Nintzel.

Olga says it can be a scary experience and if she knows that another storm is coming, "I stay home definitely.  I don't want to go through it again."

ADOT has a video and some things you will want to keep in mind if you do find yourself out on the roads during a dust storm. It's a good idea to look at it even if you've lived here for a while.

The main thing though, if you know a dust storm is popping up and you can stay off the roads - that's the best idea of all. 

ADOT: Pull Aside - Stay Alive

Will you know what to do in a dust storm?

pullasidestayalive.org

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