UA-Developed App Warns Drivers of Dust Storm Danger

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Springtime is near, and with it the start of dust storm season in the southwestern United States.

Arizona experiences some of the worst dust storms in the country during the spring and summer months, leading to poor visibility and potentially dangerous driving conditions on the state's highways.

To help protect drivers from dust-related dangers on the road, the University of Arizona has created a mobile application for iPhones that provides dust storm alerts and safety tips.

Available for free download on iTunes, the app uses a person's geographical location anywhere in the country to determine if there is danger of a dust storm, or any other type of storm, in the area. The warnings come directly from the WeatherBug service.

An Android version of the app is expected to be released later this month or next month.

In addition to storm alerts, the app provides a list of specific tips for what to do when a dust storm hits, such as:

  • Do not drive into or through a dust storm.
  • 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.
  • Turn off all vehicle lights, including your emergency flashers.

The app also offers a place to list emergency phone numbers or insurance policy numbers drivers may want to have readily available in a storm, as well as a list of things people should keep in their cars as part of a Dust Storm Survival Kit. Some of those items include water, snacks or energy bars, a basic first aid kit, flashlight, dust mask and a whistle or pocket siren to signal for help.

The Dust Storm app was the brainchild of Kirk Astroth, UA assistant dean of Cooperative Extension and director of the Arizona 4-H Youth Development program in the UA College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

Read the rest of this March 18 UANews article at the link below.

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