Driving in Bad Weather
Driving in Windy Conditions

Driving in Windy Conditions: Safety Rules When The Wind Is Too Strong

Updated Nov. 16, 2020

Strong winds can sometimes be a problem for car drivers. They are especially dangerous for lightweight cars, vehicles towing trailers, campers and other high-sided recreational vehicles. Being light or having a large surface to catch the wind can cause these vehicles to be thrown out of their lane during very windy or stormy conditions.

When driving in very windy conditions, reducing your speed is the best way to avoid an accident. This will minimize the “lift” effect of air moving underneath the vehicle at speed, and increase your vehicle's grip on the road’s surface. If possible, you should avoid driving next to other motorists who may be struck if your vehicle is thrown from its lane.

Wind gusts

Be aware that sudden exposure may cause you to be hit by a strong gust of wind as you cross a culvert or bridge, or drive through mountain passes and ravines. You must always remain aware of your surroundings and prepared to control your vehicle should a sudden wind gust occur. It is quite common for drivers to lose vehicle control when not anticipating strong winds. Make yourself aware of risky environments and be ready to deal with them.

If you are in a particularly small or light vehicle, you may feel strong gusts of wind when a large truck or bus passes you. Stay alert and move as far to the right as you safely can when a large vehicle is approaching you from the opposite direction on a two-lane highway.

How to drive in high winds

The following precautions can help you keep control of your vehicle and avoid accidents during extremely windy conditions. Further guidance on dealing with hazardous conditions can be found in your state’s driving manual.

  1. 1

    Always reduce your speed during high winds.
    This will ground your vehicle, improve your control and give you more time to react defensively should an accident occur around you.

  2. 2

    Keep your hands firmly in the “two and ten” position on the steering wheel.
    Grip, rather than simply resting your hands on the wheel. A strong gust of wind could cause it to spin from your grasp.

  3. 3

    Look ahead and be especially vigilant for debris and other obstacles on the road.

  4. 4

    Do not use cruise control.
    You will need full control of the gas pedal to manage the speed of your vehicle, should it be hit by an unexpected gust of wind.

  5. 5

    When dealing with a storm or dangerously high-winds, consider pulling over and waiting for conditions to calm down before proceeding on your journey.
    Nobody likes to be delayed but being on-time is not worth putting your life in jeopardy.

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