Drive safely in high winds

Sometimes it is unavoidable to drive in high winds so here are a few tips for travelling safely.

The year started off with one of the worst winter storms seen for two decades. Across the country, towns and cities were battered with high winds that proved damaging to buildings and traffic alike.

During high winds it is advised that people only drive if there is no other option available to them. Yet it is not possible for people simply to give up their day-to-day activities and many still have to drive to and from work.

As vehicle users are likely to encounter high winds now and again, even with the winter storm over, it is worthwhile knowing how to travel safely in the event that they have to drive in them.

Plan your route accordingly

If you have to drive, you need to try to plan a route that is as exposed to the elements as little as possible. Certain roads will be more sheltered than others.

For example, driving around a housing estate or through a city will see your car sheltered by other buildings.

Driving on motorways and dual carriageways, however, tend to be more open to cross winds as there are rarely any buildings or trees able to cover.

If you have to drive in open areas

Should you find that you have to drive along roads that are fairly exposed then you should change your driving accordingly.

Take your foot off the accelerator a little so that you can maintain control of your car. High winds can compromise your handling and braking when travelling at speed.

Similarly, be very careful with your movements as a slight turn can happen a lot more quickly if you are hit by the wind at the wrong moment.

Grip your steering wheel tightly to ensure better control over a vehicle. Be prepared to unexpectedly face large gusts of wind and correct your steering wheel as and when you are hit by them.

Gusts tend not to be constant so be ready for the pressure on your vehicle to build up and drop away at random intervals.

Be careful of other road users

No doubt when you are travelling there will be a number of other drivers who, like you, had no other option but to drive in the harsh weather.

However, more than ever, it is important to be careful around other road users as they are likely to be struggling as much as you are.

Increase the rule of leaving a two second gap between you and the car in front to three seconds so that you have more time to react and for your brakes to start working if something is to happen to their vehicle.

Watch what happens to the vehicle in front and other cars surrounding you as well as this tends to be a good indicator of what you are about to encounter and will give you time to consider the best way to react.

Leave more space than usual between your car and cyclists, motorcyclists, cars towing caravans and lorries as these tend to be more heavily affected by high winds and are likely to be blown around a lot. For motorcyclists, in particular, their handling can be heavily affected by driving in high winds. Lorries and cars that are towing caravans are more likely to be blown into your path than other vehicles, nevertheless all road users are at risk of being blown off course.

It is important to be careful when overtaking high-sided vehicles during strong winds as you are likely to be surprised by the lack of wind hitting your car as you begin to pass it only to then be hit by another strong gust of wind one you get clear of the vehicle.

When parking

Consider where to park carefully in high winds and park undercover if possible, such as in your garage or in a multi-storey car park.

When parking outside there is likely to be a lot of debris being blown at your vehicle and around it, which could damage it.

Avoid parking near buildings and trees. Tiles or loose bricks can easily fall off buildings while branches and whole trees can be blown down in strong winds.

  • On: 31 January 2014
  • By: CarShop

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