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Arizona Dust Storms & Highway Accidents

In Arizona, dust storms arise suddenly and can quickly cause blackout conditions on the highways. When this happens, the safest conduct for drivers is to completely exit the highway if possible. Find a parking lot or other safe location to wait out the storm. If this is not possible, according to the Arizona Department of Transportation (“AZDOT”), drivers should:

  • Look for a safe place to pull completely off the paved portion of the roadway,
  • Turn off all vehicle lights (including emergency flashers),
  • Set the emergency brake and take your foot off the brake,
  • Stay in the car with the seatbelt fastened until the storm has passed.

Unfortunately, many motorists fail to recognize or ignore the danger of approaching dust storms. As visibility deteriorates, some continue driving into the blinding dust at high rates of speed. Not infrequently, these drivers collide with slower-moving vehicles in front of them or with vehicles stopped on the shoulder of the road. As Arizona dust storm accident lawyers, we know that when a vehicle traveling at a high rate of speed strikes a stationary vehicle, the stationary vehicle almost always sustains most of the damage, and those inside the vehicle are often severely injured or killed. The driver choosing to drive recklessly through the dust storm may walk away with little or no injuries.

Arizona’s Deadliest Corridor for Dust Storms

The I-10 corridor between Marana and Casa Grande is prone to deadly dust storms, particularly during the spring and summer. It is often referred to as “Arizona’s deadliest Corridor for Dust Storms.” Since 2000, this section of the highway has seen at least 8 deaths and over 50 crashes as the result of dust storms.

On Oct. 29, 2013, 3 people died and 12 were injured as a the result of a dust storm causing 19 vehicles to collide (10 commercial trucks, 7 passenger cars, 1 tanker truck, and 1 RV). The crash happened on I-10 just outside of Picacho Peak. The pile-up started as one truck hit another truck starting a chain reaction of cars piling into one another.

If you find yourself on I-10 between Marana and Casa Grande during a dust storm, don’t take chances and try to outrun the storm. Follow the safety tips above and be safe. The worst of the dust usually blows through fairly quickly, and it is better to arrive to your destination late than not at all.