Learn to Drive Safely in Strong Winds

As you learn to drive, it is mostly side winds that cause problems for you as a driver, and the way they affect different vehicles varies greatly. These days most cars are fairly stable in high winds, though before wind tunnel testing was widespread there were cars with notorious stability problems at speed in blustery conditions. Even so, tall sided, lightweight cars can still be buffeted about and can have a worrying tendency to drift towards large vehicles as they pass in such conditions.

But car drivers must also be aware of how these conditions affect other road users, so they can make allowances. The essential thing to remember is that the faster you go, the more effect a side wind has, in exactly the same way that the faster the car is going the more effect a movement of the steering has.

Danger Areas:Wide open spaces are obviously prone to the effects of strong winds, though here the predictability of it reduces the risk. The greater risk is where drivers are suddenly exposed to side winds where they were sheltered before.  Pay attention to signs like parking signs, construction and other warning signs as well.

Obviously, if you drive out of a cutting onto a bridge, you must expect to encounter side winds but a bridge taking another road over yours also presents a risk because the wind may be deflected along the embankment, catching you as you approach or leave the bridge. For the same reason, roads running along embankments are not always as seriously affected by side winds as one on the flat, because the wind is deflected upwards by the bank. But this means you may encounter unexpected side wind if the road passes from an embankment to flat land.

Solid objects at the roadside may cause more buffeting in strong winds because they cause turbulence where a gappy barrier, like trees, acts as a windbreak without causing turbulence.

Tall buildings and gaps in walls, including gateways, can channel very strong and sudden side winds across a road.

Look out for the way the trees move and what happens to vehicles ahead of you.

High-sided Vehicles:High-sided trucks and buses can affect you in two ways. If the wind is strong enough they may be pushed sideways, so when overtaking make sure there is plenty of room and try to avoid being stuck alongside them.

In addition they create their own turbulence, but on a windy day, as well as their slipstream, you also have the movement of the wind on top. One effect that catches many drivers by surprise is being drawn towards a high-sided vehicle because the wind passing over the top of it creates turbulence and a low pressure area alongside it. The effect on a motorway can be initial buffeting as you draw alongside, a pull towards the truck and then a push away as you pass it.

You must be ready for all this movement and not overreact to it. If you throw the wheel one way and then the other you will exacerbate the instability the turbulence causes. Keep a light touch on the wheel and merely hold the car against the movement.

Two-wheelers:Cyclists and motorcyclists represent a danger in strong winds simply because they are more likely to wobble in them, so give them plenty of room.