When we are on the road, we don’t usually worry so much about wind as we might do about rain or snow. However, strong or gusty winds also require extreme caution at the wheel, since the direction of the car and speed may be altered as it happens with other climate phenomena: strong gusts of wind can cause sudden car path deviation, reduce traction and tire grip, or even make the vehicle overturn.
What do we mean by very strong wind? Usually we are referring to gusting wind, i.e. wind with sudden blows – something that can be clearly noticed in the direction of the drive and suspension of the car. Thus, these destabilizing swings will prevent the car from following the path safely. If you are driving on an open road and you realize that it’s hard to keep the speed, this means that the wind blows hard from the front. If the car begins to lurch, this is motivated by gusts of side wind, the most dangerous kind if you are behind the wheel. And remember that you must be vigilant that the air doesn’t get under the vehicle, because it creates a lifting effect on the car’s body when driving at high speed, thus reducing the grip of the wheels on the asphalt.
Plus, did you know that 4.5 per cent of weather-related accidents are due to the wind? That’s why we think we should share with you some precautions and tips for driving with strong winds and staying safe.
Reduce or adapt your speed. The faster your car is moving, the lower your reaction time is. The great danger of speed and wind is precisely that a gust of side wind can make your car deviate from its path and, if you are driving fast, the wind will only push you further. It is recommended to slightly reduce speed and increase safety distance and, if circulating in parallel with another vehicle, you should be particularly careful. The Spanish Department of Traffic also advices to use lower gears, i.e. higher engine rpm, so that you can control your vehicle more easily.
Be especially careful with overtaking, sheltered areas and tunnels. At certain times of the journey you can be protected by a truck (when you are overtaking it), a tunnel or an area with noise protective fences. Still, increase safety distance and, if circulating in parallel with another vehicle, be particularly careful. One of the most delicate situations in case of wind is overtaking, since it can work as a windbreak and we will find ourselves in moments of extreme caution. As for the tunnels, we must bear in mind that when entering a tunnel the wind will cease pushing your car, so you will have to stop making corrections. When out of the new tunnel, the wind will return in an unknown direction and you need to be ready for it.
Monitor tire pressure. This is a very important piece of advice, no matter what the weather looks like. Remember that the tires are the only contact between the car and the road and they need to be in perfect shape.
Hold the steering wheel tightly and allow your maneuvers to be soft and progressive. Drive in the center of your lane.
Caution with trees and street furniture. In the city, try not to park near any item of street furniture that can be pushed or knocked down by the wind. On the road we must also be very careful, since the fall of roadside trees is a real danger.