Dust storms in Arizona are often referred to as brownouts. This is because the dust becomes so thick, that you may not be able to see anything if you get caught in one. They typically form in the summer months but can form any time of the year. It can be a scary and unsafe situation if you are stuck in one while out driving. You may not be able to see other cars and they may not be able to see you. Here are a few tips on what you should do when you drive in a dust storm in Arizona.
Look for a Safe Place to Pull Over
Most drivers will see a dust storm forming. It is rare that they come out of nowhere. You will either see the dirt and dust kicking up directly in front of you or you will realize that dust is gradually whipping around your car. As soon as you notice this, you will want to begin to look for a safe place to pull over. This may be a parking lot or the shoulder of the freeway. Do not take the risk of continuing to drive hoping conditions will improve. If visibility decreases quickly, look to the painted center line in the middle of a road to guide you until you can safely pull over, all while pressing on your horn every few seconds to let other drivers know where you are.
Turn Off Your Lights
In the past, drivers were told to keep their lights on after they pulled over in a dust storm. However, the advice now is to turn your lights off once you pull over. Other drivers caught in the dust storm may look for taillights as a way to guide them through the storm. They may not realize that you are pulled over and not moving, and in turn, hit your car. As such, it is important to shut off your lights until the storm is over.
Leave the Radio On
As you wait out the dust storm, leave your car radio on. There will likely be weather warnings or emergency warnings. Keeping your radio on will let you know if additional dust storms are forming and whether you should stay put or get moving once the initial dust storm passes.
Do Not Start Driving Again Until You Have 300 Feet of Visibility
When a dust storm begins to die down, you may find yourself wondering if you can begin to drive again. It is recommended by our AZ traffic school that you wait until you can see about 300 feet in front of, behind and to the sides of you. If you do not have this much visibility, the storm may not have died down completely. This means it can kick back up again quickly.
Prepare for a Possible Downpour
Once a dust storm has passed, it is important that you be prepared for a possible downpour. Many dust storms are followed by heavy, but short, bursts of rain. If you are not aware of this, it can catch you off-guard. As such, always drive safely and cautiously after a dust storm has passed. And just like with a dust storm, find a place to safely pull over if the rain becomes so hard that your visibility is affected.
Getting caught in a dust storm can be scary as you may not have any visibility. However, learning what to expect and what to do if you find yourself in this situation can help ensure you stay safe until the dust storm in Arizona passes.