In Arizona drivers face a variety of hazards which can greatly decrease visibility. These mostly natural occurrences, such as dust storms, wildfires and sun glare, can arrive seemingly without warning. One moment you are cruising along with the windows down and the next moment the sky is dark and you simply cannot see where you are going.
For someone unfamiliar with the changing driving conditions in Arizona the fix might seem as simple as turning on your headlights, but the reality is headlights will not cut through the swirling dust and high winds of a haboob (the miles wide dust storms which the state gets every year) or the heavy smoke of a wildfire. And there is no remedy for sun glare.
To counter the myths and help raise awareness of these dangers the Arizona Department of Transportation is constantly reminding drivers of what they should be wary of and how best to keep themselves and everyone they share the road with, safe from harm.
Haboobs (giant dust storms) occur in dry desert climates such as the Sahara and desert areas of Arizona. While they can be awesome when viewed from afar, they can make driving quite hazardous. These giant dust storms often precede a thunderstorm. An Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) website provides guidance on what to do when encountering a storm while driving :
Avoid driving into or through a dust storm.
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.
If you encounter a dust storm, check traffic immediately around your vehicle (front, back and to the side) and begin slowing down.
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 the 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.
A driver’s alertness and safe driving ability is still the number one factor to prevent crashes.