Britain seems to be suffering from far more extreme weather forecasts recently, so we’ve put together some safety tips to help you keep safe when driving in strong winds..
As with most difficult driving conditions, it is down to you to assess whether your journey is worth the risk. Life is precious, and sometimes road conditions dictate that some journeys are just not worth taking if you are to keep safe!
What You Can Do
Wind never blows steadily but always arrives in gusts that can catch even the most experienced driver unawares. The following should help you steer a straight course when driving in strong winds!
- Keep both hands on the steering wheel at all times, with a good grip, so you can control the wheel when being buffeted by gusts of wind or when in the slipstreams of other vehicles.
- Anticipate potential sudden gusts by reading the road ahead to avoid being blown off course. Watch out for exposed stretches of road, gaps in hedgerows or between buildings, and when passing bridges or high sided vehicles.
- Keep your speed down. The faster you are travelling the further you can drift off-course before you regain control of your vehicle.
- Keep your distance from other vehicles which may well be blown off-course into your path if they experience a sudden gust of strong wind. Be particularly aware of vehicles that are more likely to be affected by strong winds such as high-sided vehicles, caravans, motorcyclists, cyclists and horse riders.
- Watch out for signs of debris, such as trees, blown on to the road, especially if you are travelling on quieter roads or at quieter times in the day or night with less traffic around. Spotting smaller branches and debris may help you anticipate larger debris further down the road, or overhanging the road which can be hard to spot in headlights. Keep your speed down so you can anticipate the road ahead, and should you hit anything, the slower speed will lessen the impact making fatalities and damage less likely.
- If you do have to drive in strong winds, then plan your journey in advance to avoid exposed or high roads. Always check both weather and traffic bulletins regularly and be prepared for lower speed limits, lane closures and diversions.
- Always check that your car is well maintained and prepared before setting out. Check out the JSF blog post Basic Winter Car Maintenance which will provide further help.
- In case of emergency always carry a fully-charged mobile phone and keep warm, weatherproof clothing in the car, along with water and some emergency food rations.
- In case of a break down in gusty weather it is important to remember that other vehicles are more likely to be blown off course. Always remove yourself to a safe location, if necessary away from your vehicle, whilst you wait for rescue. On the hard shoulder you will probably be safer outside your vehicle, behind a safety barrier.
Feel free to share this article with friends and family who drive, and check out our other blog posts on this link that cover driving in most weather conditions. Let’s stay safe!