Driving in high winds
Driving in high winds
Expect sudden gusts at any time but particularly on open stretches of road, when passing bridges or gaps in hedges or when overtaking high-sided vehicles
There could be trees or other debris in the road
Inevitably, some trees or branches will come down when winds are high. If you see twigs or small branches in the road there could easily be a tree or large branch in the road around the next bend. Hitting debris like this at speed could be fatal so it's important to keep your speed down and drive with great care particularly on country roads early in the morning.
Trees can partially fall too and hang above the road, sometimes above the sweep of the headlights making them very difficult to spot.
High wind safety tips
This won't surprise you: if a storm's on its way, it's best not to drive. But if you're caught on the road or just can't avoid it, use these tips to your advantage.
Crosswinds make it harder to control your vehicle, especially if you drive a small light vehicle or a large high sided one.
Don't stop on a bridge
As one infamous tragedy reminds us, stopping your car when the wind is strong can be more dangerous than driving through it. In 1989, a woman driving a small Yugo stopped her car on the Mackinac Bridge in Michigan. Gale-force winds helped carry her car over the bridge's barrier, and it was later determined that the act of stopping (along with the car's light weight) made it easier for the wind to push her car off the bridge.
Keep both hands on the wheel
Whenever you drive through unpredictable conditions, keep both hands on the wheel preferably at the 10 and 2 position. This'll help you react to sudden gusts or unexpected moves by drivers around you.
Stay away from lorries and buses
If you think it's hard to control your car during high winds, imagine what it must be like to drive a bus or a lorry. Give them plenty of room an expect them to make sudden swings as the wind pushes them.
Watch for downed power lines
High winds can knock down power lines. Beware of them during and after high winds and call 9-1-1 if you come across any.
Watch out for flying debris
Crazy winds can cause building damage, downed trees, and other debris to fly into the road and toward your car. It may take awhile for this stuff to get cleaned up, so be a little extra cautious for a few days after the storm.
Expect the unexpected, especially if the wind suddenly calms
You might be in the eye of the storm, which means it's far from over. Keep your guard up until you're able to get off the road.
Avoid flooded areas
Not only are floods bad for your vehicle, but they may be housing hidden electrical currents if a power line fell nearby. Don't try to drive through them — and never attempt to walk or swim through them.
Prepare an emergency kit
Before you leave the house, try to get these items in the car just in case:
- Food and water
- Extra gas (this will come in handy if you're stuck in traffic while trying to evacuate)
- Mobile phone and charger
Wind damage and car insurance
Comprehensive coverage, which is optional unless it's required by your lease or lending company, can help pay for repairs if your car's damaged by inclement weather. If you live in a frequently windy area, it can be a valuable addition to your car insurance policy.