Tips For Driving in A Strong Wind

Tips For Driving in A Strong Wind
| By: Christian Brothers Automotive

Fall and winter are known for shorter days, cooler temperatures, and, for many communities around the country, an uptick in wind speeds.

As the seasons change, the cold air fronts and warm air fronts start to shift, collide, and change places. It’s this very interaction with each other that creates conditions that can make normal wind kick up with sudden gusts of power.

High Wind is a Weather Condition You Should be Aware Of

These huge gusts are the type of weather conditions many drivers don’t think too much about. Most of us think about rain, snow, ice, or fog, right? But when was the last time you said, “Be careful out there, it’s really windy,”?

The truth is high winds can make driving very dangerous and difficult in just a matter of seconds. According to research conducted by the Federal Highway Administration, there are over one million car wrecks caused by bad weather every year, and fast wind speeds are on the list of bad weather.

High wind can affect your drive in a number of ways:

  • Your visibility is decreased by dirt, leaves, and debris being blown into your view.

  • Your vehicle’s stability, handling, and grip on the road is lowered.

  • Your chances of an accident are increased due to changes in traffic speed.

  • Your safety is at risk due to large items, trees, trash, power lines, and more being blown into the road.

It’s probably safe to say the odds are not in your favor.

How to Drive Safely During High Wind Speeds

We want you to be confident behind the wheel when those gusty winds pick up, so our team of auto repair experts have gathered some tips to help with that.

Avoid Large Vehicles

Large vehicles like semi-trucks, commercial vans, and even large SUVs are all prone to extra influence from high winds, with trucks and tractor trailers being the most heavily impacted. It’s pretty easy to see why: their long, large sides make excellent barriers to moving air, sort of like how a sailboat harnesses the power of the wind to move it forward.

Only, unlike a sailboat, you probably don’t have the ability to control these winds and use them to push you forward. In fact, in some particularly extreme cases, trucks have been blown over completely sideways by an immensely powerful gust of wind around 50 mph!

Sudden strong gusts and high-wind corridors create a dangerous combination, especially in large vehicles, as the gusts can cause them to swerve or even be pushed off course.

While experienced drivers will anticipate this happening and be able to compensate, they need extra room to do so safely. Do your best to avoid being around larger vehicles on the road, too. Be prepared to give the trucks you come across as much extra room as possible on windy days. That way if anything were to happen, you’d be well away from any potential danger areas.

Don’t Panic

Wind is going to cause your car to bump, bob, and even sway in your lane unexpectedly. Your speed will suddenly slow down or speed up, and you may find staying in the center of your lane difficult. But…don’t panic! Your car can handle it, so long as you remain calm when it happens and after.

It’s easy to suddenly overreact, overcompensate, or make a sudden snap-correction when your car suddenly swerves within your lane or makes a move towards the vehicle next to you, but such a quick, knee-jerk reaction could cause you to lose control and possibly even cause an accident.

Instead, remain calm, stay focused, and make extremely small and gradual corrections to keep yourself centered in your lane, and you’ll notice that your car responds much better. As long as you remain under control and collected, even large gusts should give you very little to worry about.

Correct Gently & Gradually

Correcting for wind movements gently and gradually, without any sudden pulls on the steering wheel or slamming on the brakes, is extremely important when driving in high winds. If the wind appears to be trying to take you towards the side of the road or over into oncoming traffic, you do not want to overcorrect for it. Instead, gently edge yourself back into your lane and slowly turn the wheel back to normal as the gust of wind starts to die down. If you overcorrect and pull hard back toward your lane, the gust of wind could let up, and you’ll have no resistance to keep you from swerving into the next lane.

Keep Your Headlights On

Driving with your lights on is a good idea during windy weather as well. The light from your car will notify other drivers of your presence and make them aware if wind starts to push you in their direction. This should give them adequate time to safely adjust themselves and prevent what could be an otherwise terrible accident.

If debris is flying around and visibility is low, you may want to turn on your emergency lights (sometimes called hazard lights or flashers; look for the red triangle symbol) and consider pulling to the side of the road to let the wind and debris pass.

Slow Down

Take things slow! When wind is blowing, the last thing you want to do is try to power through it at the same speed you normally could during perfect driving conditions. Wind is going to cause your car to bounce and sway, and at high speeds those sudden small movements can have much greater consequences. Instead, slow down to a more reasonable speed, drive carefully, and you should find that you’ll have a much easier time keeping your car under control, even over bumps in the middle of whipping winds.

Check Your Tires

You’re going to depend a lot on your tires during windy weather, as they’re going to keep you attached to the road and allow you to correct yourself. That means tires which are starting to show some significant wear and tear are particularly dangerous.

Tires that are close to or below the legal minimum tread level can’t provide you with the grip and traction you need during normal weather, much less windy weather, and could result in even greater movements from wind gusts.

Make Sure Your Vehicle is Gust Proof

To make sure that your vehicle is ready to handle anything and everything the world throws at it, whether it’s rain, heavy winds, snow, or a mix of all three, have it inspected by a professional auto mechanic you can trust, from tire tread to tire pressure, it’s all important when ensuring your safety on the road!

About Christian Brothers Automotive

Christian Brothers Automotive has sought to change the way you think about car care and repairs since opening their doors back in 1982. Our company was founded on one simple belief: love your neighbor as yourself. Whether it’s offering transparent and honest advice, a convenient shuttle service, or a comfortable waiting area, we do everything we can to make sure your visit exceeds all your expectations.

Need routine maintenance to make sure your car is ready for your next trip? Bring your car to your local Christian Brothers Automotive today, or call your local shop to schedule your appointment.

This blog was written October, 2018, and was updated September, 2023, to reflect current trends and best practices.

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