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ADOT's dust detection system worked to prevent crashes during Monsoon season

KNXV Casa Grande Dust
Posted at 5:22 PM, Nov 05, 2020

PHOENIX — Monsoon 2020 is in the books, and so is the first run of ADOT’s dust detection warning system.

The first-of-its-kind system, which comes with cameras, electronic message boards, a variable speed limit system, and radar, is located along I-10 between Picacho Peak and Eloy.

The reason: half of all dust-related crashes happen on that stretch between Phoenix and Tucson.

It’s all in an effort to slow drivers down when visibility is reduced by blowing dust, says Tom Herrmann with the Arizona Department of Transportation.

Although there weren’t many dust-storms this monsoon season, Herrmann says one storm in August put the system to the test.

It worked!

“Drivers for the most part really did slow down. They slowed down from driving about 75 mph to driving about 40-45 mph, so everything worked,” Herrmann stated.

The sample size was small, so more testing will need to be done, but if it remains successful and more funding comes in, the system could be placed in other dust-prone areas such as I-10 in southeastern New Mexico.

Another possibility: applying the technology for winter storms, specifically for areas along I-40 in northern Arizona.