Last night it was so windy during my drive home on the highway that I was having a hard time keeping my own car in the center of the lane. Other drivers were having an even rougher go of it, often getting jolted all over the road. The danger out there was obvious, but I didn’t realize how windy it actually was until I got into town and saw leaves and various debris flying sideways through the air, the tree tops shaking in every direction. I even looked around for a tornado at one point! I wondered how many other drivers actually know how to handle extreme wind. So I decided it might be best to write some tips. Read on to learn how to keep your car under control in windy fall weather so you can avoid getting involved in a collision.
Keeping Your Car Under Control
You can’t control what other drivers do, but you can definitely control your own driving, so start by keeping both hands on the wheel. You may have to make more frequent or intense corrections than you would during normal conditions, so concentrating and using a proper grip will help there. Secondly, slow down. The faster you’re traveling, the more you’re likely to move around during a sudden burst of wind. This is especially true when driving on the highway – it’ll take a less dramatic correction and will help you maintain control throughout if you just slow down a little bit. Remember that getting there safely is a lot more important than getting there quickly. Lastly, know what to expect as the environment changes. The more open and exposed a particular stretch of road is, the more likely it is for a powerful gust to blow through. It’s the same when you’re passing more massive vehicles – they may block out the wind as you drive side-by-side, but you’ll feel it again once you pull away. If you’re not expecting it, the push you feel could be dramatic.
On a normal day, you probably don’t expect there to be a bunch of debris in the road. But on a windy day, it’s a lot more likely, whether it’s urban items like a trashcan or natural obstacle like a downed tree branch. It can really be anything, so keep your eyes focused down the road, always on the lookout for obstacles in the way. The last thing you want to do is spot something in the middle of the road and swerve at the last second. Also be mindful of other drivers. Taller or more massive vehicles are more likely to be affected by the wind, and at any moment they could lose control and swerve towards you. Every driver, regardless of skill, is still capable of losing control, so always maintain a safe driving distance and pass with caution.
In Case of Emergency
If you come across downed power lines, stay in your car! Call the local authorities to report it to them and find another way to get where you’re going. If wind knocks any stoplights out of commission, you and other drivers should treat the intersection as if it was a four-way stop. If you’re traveling on the highway and you see someone pulled over on the shoulder ahead, get in the other lane to stay clear of them. Similarly, if you’re that someone pulled over, make sure you’re as far away from the road as possible. It may even be a good idea to get out of the car and stand clear just in case someone hits your parked car.
Lastly, always be sure to plan ahead. Know what to expect when you get in the car, and always proceed with caution in extreme weather conditions. Follow these guidelines and you should have no problem staying safe in the face of strong winds.
About the author: Mike Martinis a blogger and consultant in the auto industry, covering a variety of topics including car maintenance, driving safety and body repair. He has worked with Jay Wolfe Auto Outlet North as well as other BHPH dealers in his hometown.