State launches campaign for safety during monsoons

State launches campaign for safety during monsoons
State launches campaign for safety during monsoons

A new safety campaign will remind Arizona drivers stuck in dust storms to pull over, turn off all car lights and wait until visibility is back before hitting the road again.

The “pull aside, stay alive” campaign aims to keep drivers off the road during the dust storms that the monsoon season brings.

The Arizona Department of Transportation is airing 30-second public service announcements in both English and Spanish throughout the monsoon season, which begins in June. Monsoons can cause sudden downpours and thick dust storms that can reduce or eliminate visibility.

The department says it’s important to turn off headlights, emergency flashers, dome lights and take your foot off the brake. Stay buckled up, set the parking brake, go dark and wait for the dust storm to pass.

Here’s why: If you become caught in a dust storm and have pulled off the highway, you’re in a dangerous spot – less dangerous than driving blind on the road, though – and want to hide. You can do that by turning off all vehicle lights. If you leave lights on, drivers behind you might believe you’ve found the way out and follow, crashing into your parked car because low-visibility affects depth perception.

As Monsoon Awareness Week begins and we near the official start of monsoon season, ADOT wants to remind drivers of the No. 1 dust-storm driving tip: Do not drive into a dust storm.

“Road trips are a great way to get out and experience all that Arizona has to offer,” Governor Doug Ducey said. “If there’s a dust storm in your path, it’s time to take a break from driving. Make the safe and smart decision to delay your travel plans and wait for the storm to pass.”

Towering, dense, blowing dust can drop visibility to zero. Just as dangerous are the small dust channels that whip across roadways in an instant, affording drivers little or no opportunity to avoid them. In such events, ADOT has developed the following “Pull Aside, Stay Alive” dust storm safety driving tips, which can help travelers survive a storm.

  • Avoid driving into or through a dust storm.
  • 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. You do not want other vehicles approaching from behind to use your lights as a guide, possibly crashing into your parked vehicle.
  • Set your emergency brake and take your foot off the brake.
  • Stay in the vehicle with your seat belt 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.

More information on dust storm safety can be found at PullAsideStayAlive.org and safety tips for driving in rainstorms can be found at azdot.gov/monsoon.

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