Blowing dust can cause huge hazard for Arizona drivers

When winds kick up along Interstate 10 south of Phoenix and north of Picacho peak, blowing dust can cause a huge hazard for drivers.

It’s even more dangerous if you’re traveling in a semi tractor-trailer truck.

Jamey Main and his father-in-law have been trucking together for the past two years. 

The two will often watch wind advisories when traveling through Arizona to avoid getting caught in a dust storm or haboob.

“It makes it very challenging. With these trucks, we're at a higher center of gravity so we catch more wind, it blows us around," said Main.

When wind gusts get up to 35 or 40 miles-per-hour, it can swing a semi-truck’s trailer into the next lane, causing an unexpected lane change for drivers.

“Hanging out on the sides (of a semi-truck) is not a good idea. It's a bad spot to be in during 35-mile-per hour winds. If it's hitting the side, I got to give,” explains Main.

Main suggests getting a good size piece of cardboard and hold it up to the wind to give you an idea of what pulling a trailer through winds gusts can feel like.

“Just go out and stand with it in that wind and see how it does, because it's going to do the same thing to my truck, said Main.

So when the wind and dust get blowing, semi-tractor trailer drivers suggest giving them plenty of room.

Don’t hang out in the lane next to them and don’t drive in their blind spot which is usually between the sleeper and the front of the truck.

And don’t drive too close in front of them, the long space they leave between them and the car in front of them is needed for stopping distance.

“It can be a little hairy sometimes a little nerve wracking. But if we both try to stay safe, we’ll both make it home,” said Main.

The Arizona Department of Transportation has several other suggestions for drivers when blowing dust occurs:

  • Avoid driving into or through a dust storm. 
  • Do not wait until poor visibility makes it difficult to safely pull off the roadway - do it as soon as possible. Completely exit the highway if you can.
  • If you encounter a dust storm, check traffic immediately around your vehicle (front, back and to the side) and begin slowing down.
  • Do not stop in a travel lane or in the emergency lane; look for a safe place to pull completely off the paved portion of the roadway.
  • Stop the vehicle in a position ensuring it is a safe distance from the main roadway and away from where other vehicles may travel.
  • Turn off all vehicle lights, including your emergency flashers.
  • Set your emergency brake and take your foot off the brake.
  • Stay in the vehicle with your seat belts buckled and wait for the storm to pass.
  • Drivers of high-profile vehicles should be especially aware of changing weather conditions and travel at reduced speeds.
  • A driver's alertness and safe driving ability is still the number one factor in preventing crashes.


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