Dust storms are no laughing matter in Arizona. In fact, these howling vortexes of dust and dirt can stretch for miles in directions, reducing visibility to zero and leaving drivers stranded in the middle of nowhere with now way of seeing where they are going.

For the uninitiated dust storms may seem like a fairy tale story they tell their children; something that only happens in the deserts of the Middle East and only impacts people riding on camels. But in reality dust storms happen here in the United States every year in places like Phoenix, a major metropolitan area.

This lack of knowledge on the part of drivers and the increased power and regularity of these storms has prompted the Arizona Department of Transportation to launch a statewide campaign aimed at helping drivers understand just how big of a risk these storms pose to their safety.

the idea is to use local media and police to help educate drivers and remind them to take warnings about oncoming storms seriously. They also provide information to drivers so they know how to react if they do eventually get caught in a dust storm.

Dust storms can be deadly for drivers who get caught in the middle of their fury. That is why the Arizona Department of Transportation is trying to get out in front of the trouble. Today the agency kicks off a public awareness campaign urging motorists to “Pull Aside – Stay Alive.”

This is a collaborative effort between ADOT, the National Weather Service, the Arizona Department of Public Safety and the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety. A public service announcement shows how quickly a dust storm can envelope the roadway.