How to… Drive in strong winds

Sudden gusts of wind can catch out even the most experienced driver.

Winds rarely blow steadily and sudden gusts can catch you out unexpectedly, no matter how experienced a driver you are.

Follow these tips when driving in strong wind:

  • Plan your journey – is there a route with less exposure to the weather?
  • Drive slowly enough to cope with the guests – high winds can get under a car and affect its handling and braking
  • Be careful when overtaking high-sided vehicles – driving past large vehicles can result in a sudden gust from the side as you clear
  • Make sure you hold the steering wheel firmly. They can catch you off guard
  • Give other road users – cyclists, motorcyclists, lorries and buses more room than usual. They get blown around easily by side winds.
  • Keep eye on what is happening with other road users. How they are being affected will give you a pre-warning, eg if they are being blown off course
  • Keep extra distance between you and the car in front – consider increasing the two-second rule to three seconds
  • Make sure that you park your car in a safe place – avoid parking under trees etc.
  • In case of an emergency, always carry a fully-charged mobile phone and warm, weatherproof clothing.

Be wary of:

  • Crossing high exposed bridges
  • Vehicles towing caravans
  • Using top or roof boxes as this increases susceptibility to cross-winds
  • Debris on the road

Inevitably, some trees and branches will come down in high winds. If you see twigs or small branches in the road there could easily be a tree or large branch around the next corner. Hitting debris at speed could be fatal so it is essential to keep your speed down and drive with great care particularly on country roads and early in the morning.

Plan journeys carefully and check both weather and traffic bulletins regularly – low speed limits or even temporary closures may be imposed on exposed bridges and road closures due to falling debris or accidents will be more frequent.