Driving Through Dust Storms?
At some point, you’re bound to experience one of Arizona’s iconic dust storms. They can be spectacular to watch, but driving in one can be very dangerous. Dust storms in the summer are common, so what can you do to stay safe on the road? And just what is a Haboob? Read on to learn our top tips for driving through dust storms.
What is a Haboob?
A phenomenon called a Haboob happens when extreme, dry heat is mixed with high wind. Arizona is the perfect candidate for dust storms because of the high heat in the summer. During monsoon season, Haboobs or giant walls of dust can be intense and can quickly cover large areas. These storms can be very dangerous if you’re on the road.
If you know a dust storm is coming and can stay off the road, this is your best choice. But sometimes it’s unavoidable to encounter a dust storm while driving. If this happens, the following protocol will help keep you and others around you safe.
How to stay safe during a Haboob
1. Be prepared
Keep your windshield clean and check your windshield wipers regularly. AAA states that ice, condensation, and dirt all affect your ability to see out your windows and shorten the life of your windshield wipers. Keeping your windows clean and checking your wipers regularly ensures you have them when you need them most. Making sure both low and high beam headlights are in working condition at all times is another key in being prepared. Turning on your headlights is the easiest was to create visibility while driving. In any situation where your visibility is reduced, increase your following distance, so you have plenty of time to stop or slow down, and keep space clear around you as much as possible, so you have more “outs” if needing to switch lanes or quickly pull off the side of the road.
2. Practice your defensive driving
So, what happens if you get caught in a dust storm and when do you know it’s no longer safe to drive?
Look ahead, increase your following distance, and when your visibility becomes limited, that’s when it’s time to slow down and pull off to the side of the road immediately. Be sure to pull off as far to the side as possible and turn all vehicle lights off. Take your foot off the brake. While keeping your lights on to increase visibility while driving is a good thing, if you have to pull off in a dust storm, leaving them on can mislead other drivers into thinking your car is moving and may cause them to run into you. Turning all lights off is the safest way to prevent a crash while on the side of the road. Stay in your vehicle and stay belted. Do not try to “power” through the storm. Wait until it passes before getting back on to the road again.
And don’t forget, it’s important to check the weather channel to stay up to date on weather changes. Things can change fast. If you get stuck driving in a storm, follow the above tips to safe.
Have more questions? Our classes both in the classroom and on the road are designed to prepare you to be a defensive and safe driver. Visit us at www.stopandgo1.com or give us a call: 602-896-9606. Drive Safe AZ!