How to drive safely in a storm – expert advice on dealing with high winds

How to drive safely in a storm – expert advice on dealing with high winds
How to drive safely in a storm – expert advice on dealing with high winds

The country has already been battered by one storm this week and the forecast is for more heavy wind over the coming days.

Especially when combined with heavy rain and flooding, such weather can make driving more difficult and can present extra dangers on the road, so we’ve spoken to the experts from Bill Plant Driving School to offer some advice on how to drive safely in strong winds and storms.

Consider staying put

30mph and 45mph winds can be strong enough to make driving dangerous, never mind when a storm’s coming in and winds can reach in excess of 80mph. If the winds are strong, consider avoiding travel altogether, especially if your journey involves long distances, motorways or an abundance of bridges.

Ensure your car is ready for the road

First and foremost you want to ensure that your lights are in good working order; this is to make sure that your vehicle is fully visible on the road. Alongside this, be sure to give your tyres and fluid levels the once over.

You also want to ensure you have emergency supplies in your car, should you break down or find yourself having to pull over to let the weather calm down. This should include water and snacks, to keep you going, as well as a first aid kit.

Hold on tight

Keep a firm grip on the wheel as strong winds can force your car in different directions, causing you to drift, often without you even realising. Keep two hands on the wheel at all times and be prepared to hold on tight when an unexpected gust comes your way.

Read more: How to drive in heavy rain and flooding

Take your time

You may well be in a rush or running late, but extreme weather conditions are no opportunity to rush down the road. Strong winds can affect your car’s braking and handling abilities and when the rain starts to pour you’re more at risk of hydroplaning; so take it steady. It’s better to arrive late than not get there at all.

tree fallen on road
Heavy winds can cause obstructions that lead to delays or detours (Photo: Shutterstock)

Overtaking

Speaking of slowing down, take care when overtaking other vehicles on the road, particularly those on the larger side as they can cause sudden gusts of wind from the side as you draw near. Again, keep two hands on the wheel and be prepared to grasp control as you clear.

Beware of large vehicles

Take care of lorries, tractor-trailers and cars towing caravans when there are strong winds as they are more vulnerable; it takes far less to blow these off course. Allow more room for these vehicles and take care when moving past them.

If you must travel during a storm make sure your car is prepared before setting off and take emergency supplies with you (Photo: Shutterstock)

Turn on the radio

Turn on your car radio and, if you can, set it to interrupt the broadcast with local traffic news in order to keep up-to-date with road closures and heavy traffic caused by the rain. If you can’t and you have passengers in the car, ask them to keep you updated by checking local news or weather on their phones.

Choose roads with shelter

Stretches of road that are less sheltered and more exposed to the elements will leave your vehicle more susceptible to sudden unexpected gusts of wind. Try to opt for more sheltered routes, avoiding high bridges, and always let people know when you’re going and where just in case your phone runs out of battery half way there.

Park sensibly

When you reach your destination, make sure that you leave your car in a safe place and avoid parking under or too near trees and telephone lines, or anything that has the potential to blown over in strong winds.

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