By the end of Tuesday's dust storm in Arizona, dozens of vehicles had crashed, 15 people were injured and one senior citizen had died.
The National Weather Service of Tucson, Ariz., is considering issuing a "blowing dust advisory" for Thursday as a low-pressure system digs in north of the region. Why's that? It's just some harmless dust, right?
Not when you're driving. That much was evident yesterday on Interstate 10 between Tucson and Phoenix, where drivers braving a dust storm wound up in three separate pileups. Six people were critically injured and one elderly man was killed, according to the Arizona Republic. The hurt had to be driven to hospitals because Medivac helicopters couldn't see jack. A video of the automotive mayhem follows the jump.
If you ever find yourself behind the wheel in a dust storm (not too likely in Washington, D.C., although it has happened before), here's what the Arizona Department of Public Safety advises you to do:
· First and foremost SLOW DOWN. The posted speed limit may not be a safe speed to travel in bad weather. On wet roads your vehicle will have less traction than on a dry road. Slower travel speeds allow for safer braking and stopping distances.
· Leave plenty of room between you and the vehicle ahead of you and be aware of the vehicles around you in other travel lanes. Braking and shorter stopping distances will be affected by wet roads and slippery roadway surfaces.
· Watch carefully for water pooling on the roadway surface as this could cause your vehicle to slide or hydroplane.
· Do not enter an area where the roadway has been closed by barricades due to flooding. You don’t know how deep the water is or how fast it is running. Besides, it is against the law and very dangerous to drive into a flooded area!
· Drive with your headlights on. This increases your visibility to other vehicles.
· At night, slow down and pay close attention to changing road and weather conditions.
· Strong winds can be associated with a monsoon storm. Watch for blowing dust and if at all possible, avoid driving into a dust storm.
· If you cannot avoid the dust storm drive with your headlights on and slow down. Do not stop on the roadway or on the emergency shoulder area. Pull completely off the roadway surface, stop, and turn off all vehicle lights and take your foot off of the brake.
· Make sure your vehicle is in good condition. Ensure your head and tail lamps along with your turn signals are working properly. Replace worn out tires for better traction and maintain proper tire air pressure, replace worn out windshield wiper blades, keep windshield washer fluid topped off, and see that the brakes are in good condition.
· Be prepared for unforeseen delays, such as flooded roads, construction or other traffic delays. Carry extra food and water in your vehicle.
· If you suffer a mechanical breakdown or tire failure, remain calm, slow down, keep the steering wheel straight, and drive the vehicle to a safe area as far from traffic as possible.
· ALWAYS wear your safety restraints.
· Be patient and courteous. Remember other motorists are facing the same weather conditions as you.