Here in the desert southwest, sandstorms can be extremely dangerous, often sending visibility to near zero. If you are caught in a sandstorm, as visibility diminishes, so should your speed.

Your safest option is to exit a freeway or busy street and find a safe place to park such as a shopping mall or other commercial area, before visibility is severely reduced, and simply wait out the storm. If that isn’t possible, and visibility becomes nearly zero, you need to pull off the road. Once you pull off the road, don’t make the potentially fatal mistake of keeping your foot on the brake or turning on your emergency flashers. Making yourself visible is precisely what you should not do.

When you’re caught in a sand storm, pull as far off the roadway on the right side as it is safely possible to do. If you can get completely off the shoulder, off the paved surface, and do so safely, you want to do that. Then you want to extinguish all lighting, make sure your foot is not on the brake, turn your headlights off and do not turn on your emergency flashers.

You may be thinking, “Is this guy nuts? If I turn all my lights off, someone’s likely to run into me!”

Studies have shown the opposite is true. In poor visibility situations, other drivers will track right in on your lights, assume you’re moving and smash into your stationary vehicle. Maybe they think that you can magically see through the sand when they can’t, so they’re going to follow you. I’m sure you’ve heard of accidents like this. Because of this phenomenon, you want to extinguish all your lighting when you pull over and stop.

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