When we think about harsh driving conditions, ice and snow usually come to mind first, but high winds can also be really tricky to drive in! Driving through wide open spaces like the motorway or bridges, tunnels or overpasses is particularly dangerous in high wind conditions. Ireland is known for its rain so driving in heavy rain and floods is a norm, especially during the winter months but wind is also a common occurrence. To help you stay safe when driving in windy conditions, we’ve put together 10 tips to help you adapt you’re driving:
- Firstly, stop and decide if your trip is really necessary. If it is, plan your journey carefully and give yourself plenty of time to get to your destination. One of the best ways to stay safe in windy weather is to avoid driving altogether if possible.
- Keep a safe distance from the vehicles in front of you, even when you’re stopped in traffic. A good rule of thumb is to leave between 2-3 seconds between your vehicle and the one in front when driving in normal weather conditions. However, this should be increased to 5-8 seconds for extreme weather such as high wind.
- Keep both hands firmly on your steering wheel. Refrain from turning off the A/C or changing radio stations. All it takes is one strong gust that can cause you to lose control. Be particularly careful if you’re on a motorbike, strong winds can blow your bike off course and can be very tiring on a rider.
- Turn your lights on, even if it’s bright. Turning on your headlights can help you to see more clearly of what lies ahead and will also help other vehicles see you.
- Be careful around larger vehicles like trucks, vans or cars carrying trailers. These are more inclined to lose control in high winds and could risk overturning in strong gusts.
- Be extremely cautious near cyclists or pedestrians. Make sure to give them a wider berth than usual because their paths can easily be affected by strong winds.
- Reduce your speed and be alert for times where you may need to stop suddenly. Fallen trees and debris are a common occurrence when driving in wind so expect the unexpected.
- Following on from point 7, always be conscious of fallen trees, especially in less built-up areas. Even after strong winds have died down, they might have damaged trees that could uproot days later, so stay cautious.
- Watch out for any other debris on the roads. Winds can blow branches from trees, or large items of rubbish, onto the roads and onto your vehicle.
- High winds and falling trees cause overhead power lines to break and fall which can interrupt the electricity supply to large areas. It’s so important to keep away from any electricity wires, fallen wires are never safe to touch or handle.1
If the weather conditions get too extreme, pull over until you’re ready to continue. When you’re nervous it makes it more difficult to navigate the roads and you’re more likely to make a mistake. Take a break until you’re ready to continue.
Make sure car insurance policy is up-to-date and you have the right level of cover so that you are protected if a fallen tree breaks your windscreen or you lose control of your vehicle. If the unexpected does happen when driving in windy conditions, Aviva’s breakdown assistance team is there to help you.