Driving in a sudden dust storm can be one of the riskiest weather types to drive in, in states like Arizona. These types of storms arrive without warning and can prove complicated if you’re not prepared for minimal visibility. One thing experts agree on is how essential it is to remain calm and focus on the road ahead of you. And if possible, pull over to the side of the road to avoid continuing to drive in this situation. If you must continue to drive, it’s essential to remain as steady behind the wheel as possible. We will further discuss tips for driving in a dust storm that can help settle your stomach and give you confidence behind the wheel.
These safety tips can empower you to navigate through even a sudden dust storm. The key to remember here is you simply should not drive in a dust storm if you can avoid doing so. In the United States, these storms can come on suddenly, blinding you and limiting your ability to see more than a few hundred feet. These tips for driving in a dust storm are just the starting point. Be sure you have proper auto insurance to protect your financial health if an accident occurs.
#1: Remain Calm at All Times
If you are caught in a dust storm, the most important first step is to take a deep breath in. You need to remember that dust storms can come on suddenly in some areas, but when they do, it is up to you to get your vehicle to the side of the road safely as you wait it out. Take a few deep breaths. Turn off the music so you can focus, but don’t let your mind cause you to panic. If music helps you, then keep it on softly with the goal of remaining safe on the road. Focus on just what is in front of you right now.
#2: Navigate with Slow, Steady Effort
With your vehicle lights on, keep driving but slow down. It is important to know where your emergency brake is. Keep your foot off the brake – you do not want to slam on it since this will cause the car to move or skid to the side suddenly. Instead, drive at a slow pace only if you feel comfortable doing so. Be sure you drive at least 300 feet behind any other vehicle on the road. Only continue for as long as you feel safe. Then, navigate off the highway.
#3: Exit the Highway If Possible
High speeds and driving in a dust storm do not mix. Avoid this by getting off the road if possible. Find a safe place to pull over if it is safe to do so – on a highway, this means off to the shoulder. Use your flashing lights to navigate to the side of the road. Then, turn off your flashing lights as you wait for the storm to pass. Do not exit the car. With your lights off, other drivers will not become confused by your position.
#4: Wait it Out Patiently
In the United States, dust storms can last from a few minutes to 20 minutes or longer. Do your best to wait it out until it is clear to move. If you need help or you no longer feel safe, call for help. If there is a problem with the roadway being blocked, contact emergency workers. They will work with the Arizona Department of Transportation to help you leave the road.
#5: Getting Back on the Road
Drive only on the paved portion of the road, not on the berm. As you prepare to get back on the road, remember to do so with caution. Turn your lights back on so drivers see you. And, avoid trying to accelerate quickly. The road can be slippery and the dust may still be moving rapidly.
These tips for driving in a dust storm are a good place to start. When you pull off the road or the portion of the roadway impacted, be sure to keep your radio on to listen for storm updates.