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How to Survive a Dust Storm While Driving in Arizona

How to Survive a Dust Storm While Driving in Arizona
Image: ADOT

Tuesday's triple-fatality pileup on Interstate 10 near Picacho Peak wasn't the worst in Arizona history.

Dust-storm collisions are a fact of life here in the desert, ever since our forefathers laid down the superhighways. At the average cruising speed on Interstate 10 -- about 90 mph, most days -- being rendered suddenly blind is probably the worst thing that can happen.

Here are several tips that may allow you to survive should this weather phenomenon catch you on the open road:

See also: - Arizona Drivers Still Can't Drive in the Rain

* Let technology help you. Turn that weather alert on your smartphone back on. While nothing but an annoyance in the climate-controlled environment of your home, the alert could save your life. Find your phone's settings and notifications and turn that sucker on for road trips, especially if you're on Interstate 10, one of the most notorious roads in the country for pileups.

* Don't think that just because it's not monsoon season, you're safe. As Tuesday's deadly crash showed, blinding dust can cause accidents at many different times of the year. One of the state's deadliest was in April 1995, when 10 people died on I-10 near Bowie. A list of the state's worst dust-storm-related crashes compiled by Channel 15 on Tuesday shows they've occurred from March to October.

* Follow the Three-Second Rule, a.k.a., Driving Like Grandpa. Most of these pileup crashes occur when someone comes zooming in from behind. The answer is, duh, slow down. In normal driving, making sure that you're at least three seconds behind the driver in front of you pretty much assures you'll have time to react to anything. Driving like a grandpa tends to cause people who want to text and speed to pass you. As visibility decreases further, they're more likely to be the ones crumpled under the semi-truck.

* On a trip from Phoenix to El Paso once, we encountered what was essentially an all-day dust storm. Visibility was bad, but not so bad that traffic wasn't moving. Pulling off the road and waiting it out wasn't really an option. Okay, it was an option, but we didn't pull over. We have no advice for this situation -- just mentioning it.

* Learn all those neat tips about surviving dust storms. As long as the government spent some of your money on a website and made a video, why not check it out? The URL is pullasidestayalive.org. Or click here for the meat of the website, the list of tips.

* You don't really need to go to the website. What it boils down to is this: When the dust storm impairs your visibility, pull all the way off the paved part of the road as possible, make sure no light is emanating from your automobile, and keep your seat belts on.

How to Survive a Dust Storm While Driving in Arizona
Image: ADOT

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