Monday’s dust storm that cost a man’s life in Barton County is a vivid reminder of traffic safety in such situations.
Most drivers were not mentally prepared for the life-threatening travel conditions that existed when winds gusting to 64 mph blew through Barton County.
Several drivers stopped in the roadway and others didn’t pull their vehicles safely off the roadway. Another driver kept his emergency lights on.
Preparedness is the key.
Monday proved that dust storms strike with little warning, making driving conditions hazardous. Even in Kansas, a dust storm can blindside drivers on a highly-traveled highway.
Motorists who are not familiar with dust storms might not be certain what they are seeing. It appears like a giant cylinder of dust rolling across the landscape.
If a dust storm strikes, safety experts advise you should use the same rules you would use for driving in dense fog.
Never stop on the traveled portion of the roadway. Vehicles traveling behind you may not see you in time to stop safely.
If it’s possible, safely guide your vehicle off the pavement as far as possible.
Motorists driving in dust storms pulled off the roadway have mistakenly left their vehicle or emergency lights on — which is a big mistake.
It’s important to stop, turn off all your lights, set the emergency brake and take your foot off of the brake pedal to be sure your tail lights are not illuminated.
Vehicles approaching from the rear and using the advance car’s lights as a guide have inadvertently left the roadway and in some instances have collided with parked vehicles. Make sure all of your lights are off when you park off the roadway.
If traffic prevents you from pulling off the road, keep your attention to the white lines on the pavement to keep the car pointing in the proper direction. Drive slowly, until the dust passes, which should take a few minutes.
If you can’t pull off the roadway, proceed at a speed suitable for visibility, turn on your lights and sound your horn occasionally. Use the painted center line to help guide you.