Dust Storm: Keep driving slowly or pull over?

BENTON COUNTY, Wash. -- Everyone's still talking about the crazy dust storm yesterday that left over 50 cars in a pile up and dozens of injuries. Many of you commented our Facebook page with your opinions on the best way to handle a storm like this if you get caught in one. KEPR talked with a Washington State Patrol Trooper who was one of the primary responders yesterday about what you should do.

It was a rare sight on I-82 Saturday night. The wind picked up and swept dust across the highway, so thick, visibility was practically down to nothing.

So many cars were involved in a massive pile-up accident, authorities still aren't sure of the exact number. But they are estimating over 50. Dozens were left with minor injuries.

WSP Trooper Spencer Kelty was one of the primary first-responders on scene.

"As I was coming in, it was a wall of dust, and as I entered it, I was obviously looking for the collision, and trying to avoid hitting it, knowing myself that it should be any second. It surprised you. It did come right up on you," said Trooper Kelty.

Trying to not only protect himself. But also help the dozens of people around him who had crashed.

"We can't go into it 70 miles per hour and then start slowing down cause we can't see. If we see that hazard up ahead, we need to come in slowly and really know what we're going into whether that be fog or a dust storm or snow storm," said Trooper Kelty.

So the question is, should you pull off the road and stop completely?Or keep moving slowly?

WSP says unless you're extremely certain that you're far enough off the road that there's no chance someone could hit you from behind, the best choice would probably be to keep moving slowly with your hazards on.

"If you pull over on the side of the road, and you aren't off the road, and the person behind you can't see you, well then you're probably gonna get hit from the rear," he said.

But he says every situation is different. Drivers we spoke with had different opinions.

"If the dust storm came up and I couldn't see, the visibility was 0, I 'd pull over and wait for it to pass, it's better to be safe than sorry," said Leslie Sparks.

"I've been in a massive rain storm before when I lived back east, and visibility was very low. I did what everybody else was doing which was slow down but continue to creep along," said Kelly Miller.

The highway was shut down for several hours as crews cleared the wreckage. We are told none of the injuries sustained were life threatening.