State safety and transportation officials are developing a detection system to warn motorists if dangerous dust storms are in the area.
The Southwest is known for its haboobs during the monsoon. A recent dust storm in New Mexico, near the Arizona border, caused a 25-car pileup, killing six people.
The dust-detection system, which is scheduled to be installed along a portion of Interstate 10 between Phoenix and Tucson by 2019, would give ADOT and the Arizona Department of Public Safety an early warning of storms. Installation is expected to begin by the end of 2017.
Cameras and sensors are combined to monitor the road and the desert on either side of it. The overhead signs that span freeways will automatically alert motorists of potential dangers ahead and lower the speed limit.
At the same time, workers in the ADOT operations center are monitoring what’s happening on state roads on a wall of screens. The system will be installed over the next two years on a ten-mile stretch of I-10 between Eloy and Picacho Peak. If it works well, it could be expanded to other problem areas.