Dust Storm Causes 25 Car Pile-up, Killing 6
New Mexico and Arizona residents are rattled after a massive dust storm sweeps across the desert leaving behind a horrendous accident and causing 6 fatalities. Here’s how to be prepared for the next one.
A dust storm near the Arizona and New Mexico border viciously swept through the Interstate 10 West motorway, causing low visibility and dangerous driving conditions. The aftermath of the dust storm resulted in a 25-car pile-up on Monday, June 21, 2017.
This massive accident caused 6 fatalities and numerous injuries. Included among the fatalities were a young couple and their newborn baby – Jose Elias Caraveo-Serrano, 30; Susan Caraveo, 29; and their 6-month-old daughter Julissa. The family was killed while traveling home from New Mexico, according to ABC news.
The massive pileup was due to a dust storm that swept through the state borders unexpectedly and with alarmingly high winds that limited visibility for drivers, reports officers of the New Mexico police department.
This incident, though tragic, is not an isolated occurrence. Dust storms have been responsible for numerous fatalities in recent years, particularly in the Phoenix area. If you live in one of these affected areas, it is strongly recommended that you familiarize yourself with the safety procedures recommended to survive unharmed when a massive dust storm strikes unexpectedly.
Don’t throw caution to the wind:
Thunderstorms generate frequent downward gusts of air called microbursts. When these microbursts hit the ground they spread dense blowing dust in a concentrated area. The result of these “microbursts” is what we have come to know as a dust storm.
Dust storms can gather force quickly and are unpredictable in nature. A dust storm at its peak can cause zero visibility. This is a meteorological measurement meaning that there is a complete lack of visibility of anything less than 100 meters away. Conditions like these, of course, are extremely high-risk for anyone attempting to drive. It is reported that in the area of Tucson and Phoenix a dust storm can travel across the desert at 50 to 60mph. Those caught in one usually find themselves with little time to prepare or to seek safety. These storms occur most often during monsoon season, which typically peaks during the last month of summer. As evidenced by this devastating accident in New Mexico, dust storms are extremely dangerous and can quickly become fatal if people are caught unaware.
What to do if a dust storm strikes while driving:
For those living or driving in the New Mexico area during high monsoon season, it is vital to know what to do, and how to respond if a dust storm strikes while driving.
The following is advice given to drivers from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.
- Firstly, reduce speed, and turn on driving lights, and pull off the road when safe to do so.
- Once your vehicle is fully off the road, turn off driving lights. Do not turn on your hazard lights or leave your foot on the break, as this can mislead other vehicles to drive toward you and cause collisions.
- Leave your seatbelt on and your radio on. Wait until the dust storm has passed or until visibility is at least 300 feet before re-entering the roadway.
Dust storms can last anywhere from a few minutes to an hour. The safest and most sensible thing to do is to wait it out and listen to the news on the radio that will advise you of the dust storm’s timeline.
Dust storms can be scary and can affect anyone but, if drivers are responsible and apply this advice to safely maneuver off the road, they don’t have to be fatal.