How to stay safe when driving in high winds

Many parts of the UK are set to be battered by strong gusts, but how can you deal with them when behind the wheel?

Spring weather May 3rd 2021
Spring weather May 3rd 2021

Large parts of the UK look set to be hit with high winds as Storm Arwen arrives in the UK. The Met Office has already issued an amber wind warning for parts of north-east England and Scotland from Friday afternoon until Saturday morning, while yellow wind warnings are also in place for most western parts of the UK, extending to the rest of the UK on Saturday.

So if you need to drive in heavy winds, what should you do and are there any precautions you can take? We’ve got some key tips for you here.

Think ahead

If you really do need to head out when it’s windy, then think about packing some items that could be useful should you need to stop. Warm clothes and some food and water are ideal, while a warm blanket could prove useful if you stop for an extended time.

It’s also worth making sure that your mobile phone is fully charged before you set off, or pack a cable and charger to top it up while you’re on the move.

Plan

Mapping
It’s always a good idea to plan ahead (Land Rover)

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A little planning goes a long way, particularly in poor driving conditions. It’s worth taking a look at your planned route – either on a map or via a navigation app – and seeing which types of roads it takes in.

Larger roads are less likely to be affected by issues such as falling trees and it’s best to avoid exposed areas such as coast roads or high ground where winds are likely to be higher.

Keep your hands on the wheel

Steering wheel
Maintaining close control of the car is essential

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It goes without saying that you’re in proper control of the vehicle when both your hands are on the wheel. This is definitely the case when driving in high winds too, as strong gusts can easily push a car off course, so being prepared to make quick inputs is essential.

Watch out for high-sided vehicles

It’s definitely worth staying mindful of travelling close to high-sided vehicles when driving in high winds. When you pass the vehicle it blocks the wind, but as you clear it you can get hit with a sudden gust. If you’re not prepared, it can easily catch you off-guard.

Larger trucks and buses are also more susceptible to strong winds, so give them a little extra space when passing.

Give more space

When you’re driving in high winds, it’s a good idea to give cyclists and pedestrians a wider berth. Cyclists in particular can be blown off-course and into harm’s way, so make sure that you give them extra space when overtaking.

If you see pedestrians walking along a narrow pavement it’s better to pull out and give them some space, too, just in case.

If in doubt, stop

If you’re finding it difficult or feel like the conditions are worsening, then it’s always best to stop. Make sure you do so in a safe area, far from overhanging branches or trees. It’s always better to pause and remain fully in control rather than push on and potentially get into difficulty.

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