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Driving in high winds

Safety and caution tips for diving in heavy winds

When weather forecasters are advising that a severe gale or storm force winds are on the cards, our advice to drivers is to play it safe and avoid any unnecessary journeys. While this may seem a little extreme or even dramatic, what you need to remember is that the velocity of your vehicle will result in heightened pressure.

To illustrate this, let’s imagine that that wind speed doubles from 50km/ph to 100km/ph due to the arrival of an expected storm. While the wind speed may have doubled, in this instance the increase in pressure the wind exerts on your vehicle will in fact have quadrupled if not more making it a lot more challenging to control your car.

If for whatever reason however you find yourself with little choice but to drive during strong winds, be prepared for sudden and powerful gusts particularly when driving on exposed stretches of motorways and other roads, when crossing bridges, passing sudden gaps in hedgerows and also when overtaking high sided vehicles such as transit vans, buses, caravans, horseboxes or articulated lorries as they may be masking a gust.

3 key things to be cautious of when driving in strong winds

1. Being blown off course

At all times, keep both hands on the wheel, sticking to the 10 and 2 position and keep your concentration fully on the job at hand. Don’t be distracted by tuning in the radio, talking to your passengers and so on. You’ll need all your concentration to negotiate being buffeted by the wind and the slip streams of nearby cars.

We’d also advise motorists to drive at a modest speed. The faster you’re driving, the further off course a gust can push you, plus it’ll take you that bit longer to correct the situation and get the vehicle back under your control.

2. Other vehicles being blown off course

Remember that during high winds the risks that apply to you also apply to others. All vehicles can be affected particularly if winds are really gusting however you should be extra cautious of higher-sided vehicles.

Allow a good gap between your own car and other vehicles and give a wide berth to more vulnerable road users such as cyclists, motorcyclists and even horse-riders.

3. Debris and other obstructions

Even in your own neighborhood, before you get into your car, you may notice twigs, branches, fallen trees and a lot of other debris such as bin lids and rubbish littering the streets. This is a good indicator that you may encounter debris on your drive, especially along more exposed stretches of road so it's best to drive slowly and keep your eyes peeled.

If you see twigs or small branches on the road there may be a tree or large branch obstructing the road around the next bend so slow right down as a high speed collision with an object such as a branch could be fatal.

AA Ireland Limited trading as AA Insurance is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland.