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4 February, 2014

Driving in strong winds

Get Road REDdy

A red weather warning has been issued by the Met Office as exceptionally strong winds are expected to hit parts of the country, particularly areas in West and Northwest Wales.

With gusts of up to 80mph and possibly 100mph expected, it is important to be prepared for these conditions as sudden gusts of wind can catch even the most experienced driver off guard.

It is always best to avoid travelling in such conditions but in case you get caught out Ian McIntosh, CEO of RED Driving School, has produced some advice on how to handle driving in strong winds.

Ian says:

Before setting out

If you have to drive make sure you plan your journey carefully before setting out and choose a route that avoids really exposed areas. When driving check the weather and traffic bulletins regularly for an update on road conditions. Low speed limits or even temporary closures may be imposed to prevent accidents, long or high bridges may also be closed in severe weather.

It’s important to carry a fully-charged mobile phone, some energy bars, a bottle of water and warm, weatherproof clothing in your car in case you have to pull over.

Blown off course

Strong winds can get under the car and significantly affect its handling and braking. Gusts of wind can catch you off guard so it is important to maintain focus and use both hands on the wheel at all times. Try to avoid overtaking high sided vehicles as these are most affected by high winds. If wind speeds are high these vehicles could be blown into your path as you overtake.

Take particular care around cyclists and motorcyclists who are especially vulnerable in high winds. Allow as much space for cyclists and motorcyclists as possible and take extra care when overtaking.

Watch out for debris

Keep an eye out for twigs or branches in the road. There could easily be a tree or large branch in the road around the next bend so it’s important to drive slowly with caution as hitting debris at speed could be fatal. Take particular care early in the morning as any debris that has fallen overnight won’t have been cleared yet.

Leaving your car

Make sure you park your car in a safe place i.e. away from trees or tall buildings and look out for debris on the road.

If you break down on the motorway or on any busy road in strong winds exit the vehicle by the passenger door and move to a safe location away from your vehicle. Lorries and other high-sided vehicles could be blown off course suddenly and may veer onto the hard shoulder.