By Lauren Ferrone
Published: Wednesday, November 27, 2019
RAA has warned motorists to remain vigilant while driving during the drier months, following the tragic death of two truck drivers in a head-on crash during a dust storm in the state’s Mid North.
Much of South Australia has been lashed by wind gusts of up to 100km/h since the start of spring. Due to forecast dry conditions in most regions, dust storms are expected to blanket parts of the state until the end of autumn 2020.
Dust storms form when strong winds lift dirt and sand from arid landscapes and deposit them high in the atmosphere.
So, what should you do if you’re on the road when one hits? According to RAA Senior Manager for Safety and Infrastructure, Charles Mountain, motorists’ visibility can deteriorate quickly in the thick of a dust storm.
“Put your headlights on as soon as there are signs of dust,” Mr Mountain says.
“It’s good practice to have your headlights on regardless of weather conditions when you’re driving on regional or rural roads. If you can’t see more than 100m in front of you, be prepared to pull off the road and stop until visibility improves.”
Before you pull over, check for vehicles approaching from the side, ahead and behind, and reduce your speed if it’s safe to do so.
While it’s best to pull into a parking bay or rest area, if that’s not possible, pull onto the shoulder of the road as far left as possible.
Once you’re safely off the road, turn off your lights so other vehicles don’t follow you. Most importantly, keep your seatbelt on.
“It’s a waiting game from there,” Mr Mountain says.
“Dust storms usually last a few minutes, and up to an hour at most.
“Stay where you are until the storm passes and visibility improves, before safely signalling your intention to move back onto the road.”
One final tip: reduce incoming dust by switching the air intake to recirculate.