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When a strong wind is blowing around your vehicle, keeping your car under control can be challenging. So you may be wondering why the wind blows around your car while driving.
The wind blows around your car while driving due to pressure differences between cold and warm air fronts. When high winds form, they can get under your vehicle and lower its traction force. Therefore, it won’t be easy to steer your car, and your vehicle becomes less stable.
In this article, I’ll discuss the risks of driving your car in strong winds. I’ll also talk about how to handle your vehicle when it gets too windy for comfort on the road.
Why Is It Risky To Drive Your Car in Strong Winds?
It is risky to drive in strong winds since they impede your ability to steer the car. High winds can toss your vehicle around or cause accidents. Winds that range between 30 – 45mph (48.28-72.42 km/h) are hazardous, posing a significant danger to all motorists.
Weather-related factors — such as windy conditions — contribute to 25% of road accidents in the United States. Strong winds can destabilize and blow vehicles off the road. Moreover, they can obstruct traffic lanes by blowing around debris like fallen branches or cargo.
Strong winds can affect vehicles of all types. For example, lighter cars and two-wheelers are more susceptible to being knocked over by these winds. Also, they tend to blow trailer trucks and other high-sided vehicles sideways.
Here are the risks you may encounter when driving in strong winds:
- A sudden blast of wind can affect how you control or brake your vehicle. It’s difficult to steer or handle your car when a forceful wind catches you off-guard. You’ll most likely make the wrong moves that can cause your vehicle to clash with other motorists.
- Swerving trucks can cause accidents. High winds significantly affect large vehicles. The strong gusts can force a truck or trailer towards you if you overtake them during windy conditions. Consequently, the trailer might detach and collide with your vehicle, resulting in an accident.
- Gusty winds might blow around debris like trees towards your car. Strong winds can uproot trees along the roadside or break off branches. Moreover, the wind might blow them toward your vehicle, causing damage or injuries.
- Cyclists and pedestrians might be blown your way. These road users are vulnerable to forceful winds. Heavy winds can blow and toss them in your direction. If you’re not careful, you might run over them unexpectedly.
- Strong winds might reduce your visibility on the road. High winds can lift dust particles from wind erosion within large distances. Once these dust specks come your way while driving, they can reduce your visibility. You (or other motorists) might lose control, causing severe traffic mishaps on the road.
How To Drive in a Strong Wind
It’s better not to drive when the weather is too harsh. As I’ve explained, high winds and strong gusts are traffic hazards. But if you find yourself in a situation where it suddenly becomes windy and you have to continue driving, you need to know how to get around this and avoid accidents.
Here are ways to minimize the risks caused by strong winds:
Only Drive When Necessary
Since you now know it’s dangerous to drive in strong winds, it’s best to avoid putting yourself in that situation in the first place. If you want to drive, you might want to wait until the weather clears up. Unless you have to, don’t drive in harsh weather.
Check Your Car’s Condition Before Driving on a Windy Day
Vehicles that aren’t road-worthy are more susceptible to damage or accidents on windy days. For example, worn-out tires can prevent a driver from handling the car effectively under high winds. Always make sure your wheels are in good condition to create a more potent traction force to withstand gusty winds. The stronger the traction your axles make, the easier it is to steer.
Practice Defensive Driving
Defensive driving is basically driving with caution. It involves thinking ahead, anticipating dangerous situations, and working towards avoiding hazards. Start by ensuring that you and your passengers have buckled up. Pay attention to what is happening on the road. Minimize distractions while driving.
Do Not Overtake Carelessly
Sometimes, large vehicles can create turbulence when passing smaller cars at higher speeds This turbulence is technically known as artificial wind blasts. That’s why it’s important to avoid overtaking trucks and the like when it’s windy lest you encounter a collision.
Even during calm weather, when two vehicles of different sizes try to overtake each other at high speed, a lot of air pushes around their sides. When this happens, it creates a low pressure between them, pulling them towards each other.
Hold Onto the Steering Wheel Firmly
Maintaining a firm grip on the steering wheel can be easier said than done when driving in high winds. However, doing this can help you detect any change to the vehicle’s wheels when a gust of wind tries to blow your vehicle. To keep your car under control, place your hands on each side of the wheel, ensuring they’re level.
It would be best not to drive at high speed when windy because the turbulence can catch you off-guard. You might also not be able to handle the brakes on time. On the other hand, driving slowly under such conditions ensures that your tires create a more potent traction force, keeping your vehicle on track.
Drive on the Middle Lane
If you’re on a highway, it’s recommended that you steer in the middle of the road. It’s easier to navigate in this position since you’re not exposing your car to strong gusts of wind. Also, driving near the side of the road makes your car more vulnerable to being tossed by high winds.
Always Be Prepared
Be on the lookout for weather reports or advisories on high winds. Pay attention to road signs that warn of strong winds, and watch out for any falling objects. It’s also recommended that you carry enough supplies and essentials to prepare for any emergency.
Wind-related problems on the road are unavoidable when the weather changes due to fluctuating temperatures. Driving under harsh windy conditions exposes motorists and other road users to safety hazards. To avoid these hazards, take the necessary precautions, be alert, and practice defensive driving.