Sunday, November 29, 2009

How to Survive Traveling in a Dust or Sand Storm?

Federal regulations (49 C.F.R. Section 392.14) for commercial vehicle operators require:

Extreme caution in the operation of a commercial motor vehicle shall be exercised when hazardous conditions, such as those caused by snow, ice, sleet, fog, mist, rain, dust, or smoke, adversely affect visibility or traction. Speed shall be reduced when such conditions exist. If conditions become sufficiently dangerous, the operation of the commercial motor vehicle shall be discontinued and shall not be resumed until the commercial motor vehicle can be safely operated. Whenever compliance with the foregoing provisions of this rule increases hazard to passengers, the commercial motor vehicle may be operated to the nearest point at which the safety of passengers is assured.
However, every year severe motor vehicle collisions occur as a result of truck drivers ignoring or failing to heed the aforementioned regulation.

What can you do to help protect yourself in conditions of a dust storm or heavy fog? The following is a series of recommendations that you may consider in order to protect yourself in a dust or sand storm if you live, work or travel in areas where such weather conditions exist.

Step 1. Be prepared.

Prepare a checklist of items to add to your supplies you should carry in the trunk of your vehicle in addition to your flashlight and first aid kit. Consider including the following:

a) a pair of goggles to protect your eyes during a dust or sand storm as glasses alone provide minimal protection;
b) a respirator or mask that protects you from particulates to protect your ability to breathe during dust or sand storm;
b) protective clothing to protect you from being sandblasted during a sandstorm;
c) a supply of water - if you become stuck in a dust or sandstorm it may be helpful to have a supply of water to keep you hydrated. Many dust storms occur in arid and hot climates.

Step 2. Detour or Outmaneuver the Storm.

If you are able to identify a dust or sandstorm coming your way, use common sense. If you can detour or outmaneuver the storm, do so rather than attempt to drive into or through it. It's not wise to exercise high speeds to out run a storm. You may be able to pull over and prepare for the storm.

Step 3. Pull over.

If a storm over takes you and visibility is less than 300 feet, pull over as much off the road as possible. It is recommended by some authorities that you set your parking brake, turn off your headlights, turn signals and brake lights, because those deciding to continue to travel through a blinding storm will "key in" on your rear lights and causing them to crash into the rear of your vehicle. In many cases, if your exterior lights are on, other drivers will use the taillights of the person in front of them as a guide to help navigate the road ahead of them. If you are pulled off the road and are sitting there with your lights on, believe it or not, someone might think they can follow you and run right off the road or even collide into you! Turning your headlights off while stationed off of the road, will reduce the possibility of a rear-end collision. If you are unable to safely pull off the road, keep your headlights on, turn on your hazard lights, slow down, and proceed with caution, sounding your horn periodically. Use the highway's center line to guide you if you can't see in front of you. Pull over at the earliest and safest spot to do so.

Step 4. Take cover.

Roll up your windows. Shut off the exterior vents that allow air to circulate into your vehicle from the outside. If you have a respirator or mask designed to filter out particulates, put it on. If you don't, use a bandanna or some other cloth handkerchief to you mouth and nose to protect your lungs.

Recently, I represented a grandmother and her grandson who were over run by a truck driver who failed to slow down during a dust storm. The vehicle our client was driving was a Camaro. The 18 wheeler crashed into the rear of our client's vehicle as she was attempting to pull off the road. The crush of the vehicle forced the bumper of the vehicle into the back of the front seat of the 4 door sedan. Had anyone been in the back seat, they would have been crushed and killed.

Step 5. Don't go roaming around.

The safest place while your vehicle is parked off the road is within the confines of your vehicle instead of roaming round outside of your vehicle.

CONTACT INFORMATION: If you or a family member have been injured or damaged due to the fault or responsibility of someone else, an industrial accident or by a dangerous or defective product, drug or toxic substance, contact Alan Morton for a no obligation, free consultation.

For additional information contact:

Alan L. Morton
1005 North Eighth Street
Post Office Box 420
Boise, ID 83701-0420
Telephone: 208.344.5555
Toll Free: 866.946.1669 [866.WIN.1.NOW]
Facsimile: 208.342.2509

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