Dust storms are common in New Mexico as well as in the rest of the desert Southwest. They can be deadly. There have been five fatal dust storm crashes on I-10 between mile markers 5 and 13 since 2014. Dust storms can reduce visibility to zero in just seconds, making it impossible to see the roadway or nearby vehicles.
Often coming out of nowhere, driving can become hazardous quickly. Strong winds blowing over desert sands cause these storms to form. The clear blue Southwestern sky can quickly turn brown with sand and sediment blowing across the landscape and obstructing vision on our roadways. There is no safe speed with zero visibility.
Plan ahead and check the forecast to avoid traveling through potential dust storms. It’s better to alter your plans than attempt to drive through a storm. If you see a storm in the distance, don’t drive into it. If you do find yourself suddenly in a dust storm, take the following steps.