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Updated Oct 6, 2011 - 5:45 am

ADOT testing system to reduce dust storm crashes

PHOENIX - The Arizona Department of Transportation is testing a system that could someday help reduce tragic dust storm crashes.

ADOT turned the switch on in August on a severe dust storm warning system that will alert the agency to impending storm conditions. The system will provide early warnings of low visibility for drivers between Bowie and New Mexico, an area with a history of dust storms.

ADOT'S Doug Nintzel said, "These stations are monitoring wind speed and reduced visibility and can notify us that something is up. They can activate signs and highway radio stations to warn drivers of dust hazards."

Nintzel said the technology holds a lot of promise.

"The system is still being researched, we cannot predict the results yet and we can't predict where or when or if it will be used elsewhere."

With early detection of potential dust hazards, drivers can reduce speeds or wait out severe dust storms in safe areas.

ADOT received a $480,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation to construct the warning system.

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