A haboob passes by Sky Harbor International Airport as it heads north to downtown Phoenix.


Summer driving, especially on highways, sometimes can be dangerous.

The sky is clear one minute, then the next, a wall of reddish-tan dust blocks out the sun, envelops the roadway, and drivers find themselves trapped in a haboob.

Interstate 10 from Tucson north to Phoenix and east toward New Mexico are corridors where dust storms develop quickly, and dust-related crashes have occurred.

Officials at the Arizona Department of Transportation suggest drivers alter travel plans to avoid such dangerous conditions, but that's not always possible, so the agency offers tips on its website for reducing the risks.

The "Pull Aside, Stay Alive" public awareness campaign educates drivers about what to do - and what not to do - if drivers encounter dust storms.

"Driving into a dust storm is dangerous, and oftentimes it can be avoided," ADOT Director John Halikowski, said in a news release. "During monsoon season, drivers and their passengers must do their part by planning ahead if there are threats of a dust storm. It's better to alter travel plans than to attempt to drive through dangerous conditions. But if you're on the road and a dust storm suddenly appears near you, pull off the highway as quickly and safely as possible. Do not drive through a dust storm."

Haboob Haiku Challenge

Someone over at ADOT was feeling whimsical when thinking of ways to spread the word about summer driving hazards.

For the second year, the department has launched it's Haboob Haiku Challenge, encouraging poets - and motorists - to create vivid messages in just 17 syllables to remind everyone about the dangers of driving during dust storms.

It's part of the agency's "Pull Aside, Stay Alive" campaign.

The Japanese-style poems should follow the traditional rules of three lines of five, seven and five syllables, respectively.

Throughout the summer, ADOT will be accepting submissions on its social media sites: Facebook, the ADOT blog and Twitter, with the hashtag #HaboobHaiku.

Last year ADOT received 600 submissions, including these favorites:

• You're not a Jedi

This is not Tatooine, Luke

Pull over now, man

• Dust blows, swirls and grows

Roadways become danger zones

Pull over, lights off

• Wham, bam, dust storm jam

Can't see, don't drive, pull over

Lights out 'til all clear

SOURCE: Arizona Department of Transportation

Dust storms

Dust storms can develop quickly and unexpectedly.

ADOT has tips for drivers who find themselves on the road when one blows in:

• Avoid driving into or through the dust storm.

• Check traffic immediately around the vehicle and begin slowing down.

• Do not wait until poor visibility makes it difficult to safely pull off the roadway. And completely exit the highway if possible.

• Do not stop in a travel lane or in the emergency lane; look for a safe place to pull completely off the paved portion of the roadway.

• Stop the vehicle in a position ensuring it is a safe distance from the main roadway and away from where other vehicles may travel.

• Turn off all vehicle lights, including emergency flashers.

• Set the emergency brake and take your foot off the brake.

• Stay in the vehicle with seatbelts buckled and wait for the storm to pass.

Go to www.PullAsideStayAlive.org for more dust storm driving tips and educational videos.

SOURCE: Arizona Department of Transportation

Contact reporter Kimberly Matas at kmatas@azstarnet.com or at 573-4191.