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Tips for driving in low visibility highway situations

Posted at 5:31 PM, Jul 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-26 21:50:35-04

SALT LAKE CITY — A dust storm created low visibility driving conditions, which led to Sunday's 22-car pileup on I-15 in Millard County that took the life of eight people.

The Utah Highway Patrol said dust storms like Sunday's are not very common in the state, but low visibility driving conditions can happen year-round.

"You know, it's not something that happens every day. We do have incidences where we have similar situations whether it be fog or heavy rain, or there's times where we have fires in the area and we have smoke drifting across the freeway," said Sgt. Cameron Roden with UHP. "They are situations that we run into from time to time, but it's not something that happens frequently."

READ: Utah family loses five, including 3 children, in I-15 crash

Roden said the best thing to do in low visibility conditions is to reduce your speed.

"Speed is always a factor when it comes to visibility, because if you're going fast and can't see, most likely if there's going to be some type of hazard you're going to run into problems," he added. "So, we suggest that people definitely slow down."

Drivers in Sunday's fatal pileup reported such bad visibility, they couldn't see stopped traffic until it was too late.

"Throughout the investigation, that's what we're seeing is the visibility was just so poor that that's what led to the chain reaction crash," Roden said.

READ: Weather phenomenon behind deadly I-15 accidents

According to Roden, the best-case scenario is to avoid the risk altogether by pulling off the road if possible.

"If you do have to stop because you just can't see we want you to get well off the road so that we don't have vehicles coming up behind you and hitting you," he added.

But when roads are tight and there's not a lot of room on the shoulder, Roden said it may be best to continue on at a low speed.

"Sometimes stopping on the shoulder isn't a real safe option either," he said. "Because they may be trying to swerve and not see you until the last second there either."

If you do pull onto the shoulder, he said to pay attention to dry grass and other fuel that could easily spark a wildfire with how dry conditions are statewide this summer.

"So, if you have to continue through it, just do it at a speed that is only safe that you can react to those hazards," Roden added. "So, if it's going really slow, then at least if there is a crash that collision is going to be at low speed which is going to reduce injury."