Strong Winds

How to drive safely in strong winds.

When the winds arrive and there is a risk of strong winds and gusts up to 90mph in Scotland, Northern Ireland and northern England. The Met Office will issue weather warnings.

The high winds and heavy rain will naturally make driving more hazardous, and travel disruption can be expected. It therefore makes sense to stay at home or delay your journey if you can.

However, it isn’t always possible to plan ahead, so use the following tips to stay safe when driving in windy and stormy conditions.

Tips to drive safely

  • Slow down. The faster you drive, the more difficult it becomes to maintain control in crosswinds. Take particular care if you’re driving a high-sided vehicle, or towing a trailer or caravan.
  • Hold on tight. Keep both hands on the wheel and be prepared for sudden gusts of wind.
  • Allow space. Give cyclists and motorcyclists extra room when overtaking.
  • Be prepared. Ready yourself for stronger winds and sudden gusts when driving in exposed areas, such as hilltops or bridges.
  • Keep your distance. Give high-sided vehicles and caravans a particularly wide berth.
  • Avoid towing. Leave your trailer, caravan or horsebox at home if possible.
  • Avoid using a roof box. These can also increase a car’s susceptibility to crosswinds.
  • Look out for debris. Scan the road ahead, especially after blind bends. Also look out for low-hanging branches, particularly at night when they might not be picked up by your headlights.
  • Park away from trees. It’s also worth keeping your distance from telephone lines, power lines and buildings.
  • Expect delays. Speed restrictions and bridge closures are likely in strong winds. You might need to change your route, so leave extra time for your journey.
  • Listen to the weather forecast. Remember, it’s often better to delay your journey if possible.
  • Keep an eye on traffic updates. You can access these via local radio, social media or your sat-nav system.
  • With wind comes rain. Make sure your wipers, lights and tyres are up to the job.

Where to expect strong winds.

‘Strong wind can occur just about anywhere, but it can be more common in wide open spaces. ‘Areas for concern also include bridges, exposed stretches of road and cuttings where roads pass through hilly areas. These locations can act as funnels for wind.

‘Expect strong gusts, keep an eye on any large trucks or vehicles towing trailers near you, as their drivers may have difficulty staying in their lane. Be particularly careful around pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists, who may all be affected by strong winds.

‘Heavy rain makes driving hazardous. So please slow down and turn your lights on to ensure you can see more clearly, and so that other vehicles can see you. Do not rely on automatic headlights. Give other vehicles more space, and double the distance between you and the vehicle in front, so you have more time to react and stop safely if you need to.’

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