Driving in Strong Winds: Helpful Advice

Experiencing turbulence while driving? Here’s how to ensure safety in high winds

Navigating through strong winds can be equally challenging as driving in heavy rain or during sunrise or sundown. High winds usually don't lead to visibility limitations or flooding, but they have the potential to cause destruction to structures, roads, and trees. While driving in high winds, one may encounter roadblocks, stray debris, and swerving vehicles. Therefore, having equipped oneself is essential to secure a safe journey.

Tips on Driving in Wind

The wind direction exerts significant pressure on the car. During headwinds, it becomes arduous to accelerate, and one may have to press harder on the accelerator pedal. Conversely, during tailwinds, one must monitor speed as the wind may increase the car's momentum, and one may end up speeding without realizing it.

Crosswinds pose a threat to all vehicles, particularly during gusty conditions. The driver may feel the automobile swerving towards the side or the next lane, endangering other vehicles. One should be prepared to handle such circumstances by firmly holding the steering wheel without over-tightening and predicting the impact of gusts.

Bridges or treeless roads are the most vulnerable areas for drivers during strong winds. While overtaking large vehicles, drivers must be cautious since they might be shielding the wind gusts that may hit the car as soon as it overtakes.

Which Vehicles Are Most Vulnerable to High Winds?

Some vehicles and road users are more prone to high winds, including:

  • Lorries
  • Buses
  • Motorbike riders and cyclists
  • Horse riders
  • Vehicles with taller frameworks than footprints (for example, cars with roof storage, small SUVs, and campervans)

Even if the driver is not operating these vehicles, awareness is essential when driving around them to avoid sudden swerves or accidents. Bike riders must be given more space.

When Is It Unsafe to Drive During High Winds?

Suppose trees are visibly swaying or there is a possibility of being toppled over by the wind. In that case, it is sensible to abstain from driving unless required. A high wind speed is more likely to cause fallen trees, dislodged debris, and moving lorries making it difficult for other drivers. In such conditions, one may come across empty lorries with open curtains rendering them less susceptible to crosswinds.

Fast or Slow - Ideal Speed for Driving in High Winds

As in any adverse weather situation, reducing the pace during strong winds is beneficial. The car's braking and driving mechanism are greatly influenced in severe winds, so slowing down ensures increased control and the availability of a better reaction time. Distance between cars should be increased to help anticipate changes ahead.

How to Protect My Car from Windstorms

Parking your car in safe locations is critical during windstorms. During high winds, avoid parking under trees or in areas where anything can pose a potential threat to the car's safety.


Safety Suggestions During High Winds

Suppose there is a warning for high wind conditions. In that case, it is advisable to keep a warm jacket, water, and food in the car and maintain cell phone charge. If the weather looks unfavorable, sharing the estimated arrival time and route details with the other party is wise.

Be updated with travel literature concerning the travel area. Take note of any road closures that may alter or affect your journey. Whenever feasible, avoid driving on roads with numerous trees or dislodged objects that heavy winds may displace.

It is generally safe to drive during 40mph winds, but ensuring all the necessary safety measures are in place- checking the route, avoiding falling debris, and packing warm clothes is a must.

Car windows can withstand only the most ferocious winds, such as those of a hurricane force. Even then, it’s rare for them to give way to the wind. In fact, wind speeds above 100mph are usually required before car windows start to crack or shatter. The bigger concern in such circumstances is the likelihood of windows being smashed by airborne debris.

The impact of strong winds on driving is largely dependent on the direction and power of the gusts, as well as the type of vehicle being used. Generally, ordinary cars are robust enough to handle the wind speeds typically experienced in the UK. However, if you’re driving a taller vehicle with a smaller footprint, like a tiny van or one-person campervan, then driving may become more challenging.

While there is no precise wind speed at which windscreens will remain intact, it is safe to say that breaking windscreens due to wind alone is highly unlikely. This is partly because windscreens are designed to be resilient and partly because they are usually sharply angled, which allows the wind to flow over them effortlessly.

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