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3 Tips to Safe Driving in a Dust Storm

A few weeks ago marked the passing of my father-in-law. On the day of his funeral, we arrived at the Church for the funeral services. I noted how blue the sky was that day. It was a beautiful but chilly morning in Eastern Idaho.  However, during the service weather changed quickly. A windstorm blew into the Snake River Valley with ferocity kicking up a dust storm of the likes I had never seen before.

After the funeral, we along with our family and friends drove in procession from the church to the cemetery for a dedicatory prayer and an opportunity to render our final goodbyes to my wife’s Dad.

During the graveside service, the wind picked up and began blowing harder.  As we left the cemetery more dust came into the area. We had prearranged as a family to return to the church following the graveside service for a family lunch and get together, but traveling on the road back to the church became treacherous. In fact, there was so much dust and debris in the air, that I could barely make out the lines painted on the road.

Suddenly, we came upon a car that had just stopped in the middle of the road. My wife yelled out something, and I slammed on the brakes. I also steered our car to the left of center to avoid crashing into the rear end of the vehicle stopped in the road. Thankfully, I avoided slamming into the rear of the vehicle, but I quickly moved the car back into our proper lane and realized just how big a mistake I had made. At first, I was angry at the driver who had stopped his vehicle in the middle of the road. But as I reflected on the event I thought, "What was I thinking?" I made a number of mistakes.

My first mistake was not identifying the risk associated with traveling in a dust storm where visibility was next to 0.

My second mistake was failing to pull off to the side of the road instead of continuing on driving in the dust storm with little to no visibility.

My third mistake was steering the vehicle left of center into the opposing lane. Had there been another vehicle traveling at that time in the opposite direction, I would have been involved in a head-on collision!

Having avoided what could have been a horrific result, I began reading up on the topic of auto accidents and dust storms. It turns out that there are a number of accidents each year in Idaho associated with drivers choosing to drive through a dust storm of the type and kind I went through where vehicles either stopped in the middle of the road or fail to steer the vehicle off to the side of the road only to be overtaken by traffic traveling too fast for conditions.

First, instead of trying to plod through a dust storm, it’s better to pull off to the side of the road than risk colliding into a vehicle in front of you or being overtaken by another vehicle coming from behind.

Second, don’t leave the confines of the vehicle. If another vehicle comes from behind you, your best bet of survival is staying inside the vehicle with your lights and emergency flashers on.

Third, once you are off the road, it is recommended that you turn your lights off. Some drivers will focus on the rear tail lights of a vehicle in front thinking that the rear lights are like unto a beacon to follow. Some accidents have occurred as a result of drivers aiming for the rear lights of a parked car off the road thinking that it was safe to follow the "beacon" only to end up crashing into the rear of the vehicle as the vehicle over takes the parked car.

Driving through a dust storm presents a special hazards to occupants of vehicles on Idaho highways that can be significantly reduced by drivers taking precautions by pulling off the side of the road and waiting for the storm to pass.

If you or a loved one have been injured as a result of the negligence of another driver, you should consider consulting with an experienced trial lawyer. Boise Auto Accident Trial Lawyer Alan Morton has over 32 years of experience in helping victims of auto accidents seek damages for personal injuries and wrongful death. Mr. Morton is available to meet with you in a free initial consultation at his office or your home, workplace, hospital or any other convenient location. You can contact him at 208.344.5555, toll free at 888.716.8021 or by completing an online contact form.

Trial Lawyer Alan Moton cares about his clients and works diligently to obtain justice on their behalf. You can find a number of testimonials from his clients regarding the high level of service they received from Mr. Morton and his staff. Mr. Morton is available to meet with you to discuss your legal rights and remedies at any mutually convenient time and location.

Alan Morton
Advocate for Justice/Trial Lawyer