In this article we will describe 7 tips to drive safely if you are caught in a Sandstrom, it generally is not a good idea to drive your car during bad weather most especially during a sand storm which can drastically lower visibility, affect your car’s grip on the road, decrease your awareness, and can potentially cause accidents. However, if you are caught in a sandstorm in the middle of the road, here are some things that you should minimize risk to you, your passengers, your car, and the people around you.
Before you even think about driving during a sandstorm, even though it’s a bad idea, you need to know what a sandstorm to help prepare you for the real thing. These tips can help you stay safe during a sandstorm but we recommend avoiding driving during a sandstorm if you are unfamiliar with the location unless it is absolutely necessary.
1. Know What is a Sandstorm and Always Stay Updated on the News
Sometimes, if your driving in the desert, you can get caught in a sandstorm, and the only way to stay safe is to always be prepared, and to be prepared is to know ahead what you will be facing.
Sandstorms in the UAE typically hit often during the summer and during the transition to the other seasons. They are mostly sand and other silicate materials suspend in the air, small sandstorms can last for minutes, to hours and bigger sandstorms can last up to days, so don’t expect to wait out a sandstorm.
Not all sandstorms are like the ones in the movie especially the one that is depicted in Mission Impossible, however, that type of major sandstorm comes and goes once every 2 or 3 years with one notable one that occurred on April 2, 2015. The sandstorm blotted the sky and reduced visibility to less than 500 meters. These types of major sandstorms can last for more than 3-day and cause a sharp increase in traffic accidents due to low visibility.
Aside from potentially damaging your car’s paint job and requiring a replacement in your car’s air filter, a sandstorm can also potentially be harmful to your body if you caught outside for too long. We recommend that you wear a face mask whenever you go out during a sandstorm. We also recommend that you keep an eye on the news and weather reports especially in the summer seasons or when you are planning a cross-country trip across the desert.
2. Avoid Driving During a Sandstorm
We can’t highlight it enough, avoid driving on a severe sandstorm especially if you are not familiar with the area. Several studies have shown that the rate of accidents increases especially during a sandstorm.
Although some sandstorms can be mild they do impair visibility and can affect road driving conditions if the sand piles too much on the road surface.
3. Always Stay Updated
If there is an ongoing sandstorm or when it is during the start of the sandstorm season we recommend that you actively listen to the radio for news updates or stay updated on official news on social media channels, the internet, and even from your tv. Always stay updated on traffic updates, and driving condition updates so that you are prepared whenever you go out of your house.
4. Adjusting Your Driving
If it is too late for you to take shelter especially in a severe sandstorm or you need to drive through a sandstorm the next thing you need to consider is to adjust your driving accordingly. Sandstorms can considerably increase braking distance so you need to adjust the space between the car and also reduce the speed to take to account the slippery road.
5. Always Stay On-Your Lane
During a sandstorm, we recommend that you always stay on your lane and only change lanes if you need as well as use your lane indicators well in advance before actually changing lanes especially when your driving on highways.
If your driving on city roads, we recommend that you refrain from cutting lanes especially when you are turning into another road. Also, take extra attention to pedestrian crossing during an intersection or when turning.
6. Avoid Using Your Amber/ Hazard Lights Improperly
Only use amber lights/hazard lights in case of an emergency or when your vehicle has stalled in the road. Avoid using too many lights especially fog lights which can potentially blind oncoming traffic which can be dangerous.
7. Plan and Familiarize Your Route
One of the most important things to do when driving on a sandstorm or during the middle of sandstorm season is to plan and familiarize your route, especially where you can safely take cover indoors or safely stop in case your car stalls or breakdown.
Sandstorms are not the same type of storms that blot out the sun and sky that you typically see in movies like mission impossible but are similar to applying a shade of yellow tint to your windshield. Always be prepared and stay updated whenever there is a reported sandstorm and avoid driving especially if you are new to the area or have driven under a Sandstrom before.
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