PHOENIX — Where will you be when the dust settles?
That’s a question the Arizona Department of Transportation is asking motorists this year as another summer monsoon season begins.
For the fourth consecutive year, ADOT is rolling out its “Pull Aside, Stay Alive” dust storm public awareness campaign in an ongoing effort to educate drivers about the year-round threat of dust storms as monsoon season officially begins in Arizona today. Dust storms pose a serious public safety risk because they can strike out of nowhere. Motorists can protect themselves if they plan ahead and know the safe actions to take when the dust hits.
This year, ADOT – and partners at the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety, the Arizona Department of Public Safety and the National Weather Service – has created new television and radio public-education announcements that ask drivers if they know what to do if they get caught in a sudden dust storm event. The new TV public service announcement depicts a young driver following all the safety recommendations when she sees a dust storm while driving along a highway.
ADOT’s mission is to provide useful and memorable safety information to drivers before they get caught in a low-visibility dust storm. This year, the agency’s top recommendation is to avoid driving into a wall of dust at all costs.
“We hope motorists have heard the message that driving into a dust storm is dangerous and should be avoided,” said ADOT Director John Halikowski. “But every day we have new-to-Arizona drivers, and young drivers, who may not yet know about ‘Pull Aside, Stay Alive.’ If you know a new driver, take a moment to remind them about dust storm safety.”
Halikowski added, “As the monsoon arrives, this year we’re asking drivers to do the smart thing, the safe thing and plan ahead for possible blowing dust and limited visibility along the highway. It’s better to alter travel plans rather than attempting to drive through dust storms. It’s a risk you don’t have to take.”
Dust storms develop quickly and dust-related crashes can occur, particularly along the Interstate 10 corridor between Phoenix and Tucson. To advise drivers of approaching storms, ADOT employs a range of strategies – including electronic highway message boards, social and traditional media, communication with ADOT staff and law enforcement officers in the field, television and radio advertising, and close coordination with partnering agencies – to keep information flowing to motorists.
Please visit PullAsideStayAlive.org for the new public-education video, along with videos from past years. The website also includes a safety tip sheet.
During Arizona Monsoon Awareness Week, ADOT will be using social media to engage Arizonans in spreading the word to “Pull Aside, Stay Alive.” In addition to blog posts (azdot.gov/media/blog) and Facebook posts (Facebook.com/AZDOT), the “Haboob Haiku Challenge” is back for a fourth year at twitter.com/ArizonaDOT: use #HaboobHaiku. Anyone can channel their inner poet, but this year ADOT is asking the public to show off their creativity by providing poems about safe driving tips in dust storms.
Tips for drivers who encounter a dust storm:
- Avoid driving into or through a dust storm.
- If you encounter a dust storm, check traffic immediately 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.
- Stop your vehicle in a position ensuring it is a safe distance from the main roadway and away from where other vehicles may travel.
- 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 seatbelts 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 in high wind.
- A driver’s alertness and safe driving ability are always the top factors in preventing crashes. It is your responsibility to avoid distracted or impaired driving.