When you think of driving in adverse weather conditions, rain, snow and ice are usually the three things which spring to mind. You might not, however, have thought about the dangers of driving in strong winds.
Strong winds can make driving conditions hazardous for a number of reasons. Not only can strong gales cause your car to be buffeted from side to side, but fallen trees, other debris and fellow motorists can also create dangerous situations.
Follow our advice on how to drive in strong winds to make sure you’re prepared for the wet and windy coming months.
Before you drive
Check for weather warnings in your area before you drive – the weather conditions may be so severe that official advice is not to drive. Strong winds can be just as dangerous as rain, snow and ice, so make sure you take any warnings seriously. If you have a driving lesson scheuduled and you're worried about the weather, check with your instructor to see if it's safe for the lesson to go ahead.
Keep your grip
You should – unless you’re changing gear – have two hands on the steering wheel at all times when driving. The need to be in control of the car, however, becomes even more noticeable when driving in strong winds.
Wind can buffet your car, meaning you’ll be able to feel it pushing and pulling your car from side to side. Keep a firm grip on the steering wheel, drive at a slow, steady speed, and be aware of what’s going on around you. If the wind is strong enough to push and pull your car, other drivers will be experiencing the same thing, and could be blown across into your path.
Be aware of other vehicles
You should be particularly cautious of high-sided vehicles when driving in strong winds. Vehicles like lorries, buses and caravans will be most affected by strong winds as they are the most exposed to it. Take care when passing high-sided vehicles, leaving them plenty of room as you pass.
You should also be very careful when passing cyclists or motorcyclists. They’re very vulnerable road-users in strong winds, so leave them lots of room when overtaking.
Fallen trees and debris
It’s not just other drivers you need to look out for; strong winds can cause trees to fall down and debris to be blown into the road. If possible, avoid roads which are lined by lots of trees, and ensure you drive slowly wherever you are. Driving slowly gives you more time to react should you be confronted with a tree fallen in the road.
There’s also the risk of partially falling, hanging trees. If you come across a hanging tree over the road, don’t take the risk of driving under it – the risk of it falling is not worth it.
When driving in built up areas, you will also need to be wary of things like bins and other household items which might have been blown into the road.