How should you drive in high winds?
Invisible yet very powerful, high winds demand special attention when driving. How can a gust of wind affect your vehicle? What are the risks of driving in windy conditions, and what safety precautions should you take? Here are our tips to help you drive safely in windy conditions.
How do strong winds affect a moving vehicle?
The main effect caused by strong winds is the change of trajectory of your vehicle, whether it is a car, van or two-wheeler.
When winds are strong and blowing from the side, it can cause vehicles to veer off the side of a road, which is an issue that drivers must consider to reduce the risk of an accident.
Headwinds and tailwinds affect not only the trajectory of a vehicle but also speed and braking time. Therefore, all drivers need to be aware of the impact of these factors so that the driving style can adapt to suit conditions accordingly.
What are the biggest risks of driving in windy conditions?
If a driver does not anticipate swerving, there is the risk of being blown off course and colliding with another driver or road obstacle. A strong gust of wind over 30 mph can knock over two-wheelers and even light vehicles.
There is also the risk of objects being blown on the road and into the path of oncoming vehicles. Branches, leaves or rubbish can be blown onto the road when strong winds occur without any warning.
Which vehicles are most susceptible to wind hazards?
Some types of vehicles are particularly vulnerable to forceful winds. This point applies to lighter cars, plus motorised and non-motorised two-wheelers, which strong winds will more greatly affect than heavy vehicles.
Good to know: the height of a vehicle is another factor that determines how sensitive it is against a strong gust of wind. If you’re driving a caravan or a vehicle with a roof box, wind resistance will also be increased.
Which road sign warnings indicate strong winds?
In the UK, a triangular red warning sign with a windsock is used to mark out a stretch of road that is highly susceptible to strong side winds.
Our tips for driving in high winds
To minimise risks, here are our driving tips to consider when driving in high winds:
- avoid driving if possible or delay your departure;
- check the condition of your tyres to ensure good traction;
- hold onto the steering wheel firmly;
- identify which direction the wind is blowing to better understand possible trajectory changes;
- avoid overtaking when unnecessary;
- reduce speed and anticipate directional or speed changes of vehicles;
- drive in the middle of the lane rather than towards the side.
As is often the case with safe driving, good knowledge of your vehicle, the safety rules and anticipation will enable you to drive safely, even in high winds.