When you live in the west, you’re bound to see a dust storm at one time or another. This weather hazard can make the roads dangerous and pose a threat to drivers. Dust storms can be blinding and lead to slick roads that drivers have trouble stopping on.
Since dust storms can happen suddenly, it’s important for drivers to know what to do if they hit. Here are three tips to help you stay safe on the roads when a dust storm is present.
1. Stay calm
The worst thing you can do is to suddenly throw on your brakes or stop your vehicle when other drivers won’t have time to react. Instead, stay calm. Put on your hazard lights and slow down over time. Keep a close eye on the road ahead of you to make sure you can avoid upcoming hazards.
2. Get to the side of the road
Once you put your hazard lights on and are prepared to stop, the next thing to do is to pull over to the side of the road. Slow down over time and gently pull off to the side of a road. Don’t block the emergency lane. If you can, make it to the next exit and leave the highway. Keep your hazard lights on, your seat belt on and stay aware of your surroundings.
If it’s impossible to stop, then make sure you slow down significantly. Turn on all your lights and drive at a slow speed so any crash that does happen is less likely to be serious.
3. Keep your local radio station on and listen for updates
Finally, it’s a good idea to keep your radio tuned into the local weather station. Most dust storms won’t last long, but they can have winds of 30 mph or higher and may obscure visibility significantly. You should not begin driving again until you can see at least 300 feet in front of you. Your local weather station will report on the roadways and anything additional that you need to know about the storm that is passing through.
These are three helpful tips for dealing with dust storms as they pass through your area. They may be surprising or catch you off-guard, but the good news is that they are typically short-lived. Do your best to slow down or pull over, and you’ll have a greater chance of getting through one without a collision.