While most experienced truck drivers have seen enough strong winds to know how to handle them, newer drivers may be experiencing spring’s tough weather conditions for the first time. Whatever your experience level, driving in very windy conditions is no joke. Here are a few tips to help keep you safe this spring.
High Wind Driving Tips
1. Be aware of weather conditions before you ever begin driving. Your pre-trip routine should include an evaluation of the weather conditions both where you are and on all the roads you’ll be driving.
2. Learn the tornado warning signs. Windy conditions can often lead to deadly tornados. You might not always see a funnel cloud, so know the other signs of an approaching tornado: a dark sky with a green or yellow tint, an approaching cloud of debris, hail without rain, or a freight train-like roaring sound.
3. Know your load. A light or empty trailer is obviously going to be more of a liability in high wind conditions. No matter how heavy your load is, paying attention to your center of gravity is important.
4. Gear down for a power boost. For those times when you can’t stop driving, some experienced drivers recommend this. When you’re fighting a powerful crosswind, it helps to give yourself something to fight with. That’s why many veteran truckers say that gearing down to get more power to the drive wheels gives you a better shot at powering through the wind.
5. Get somewhere safe. If high winds that pose a threat to safety sneak up on you, look for shelter. Highway underpasses may seem like a good place to stop for shelter, but they are actually one of the worst places to be. Not only are they full of debris that can become dangerous in high winds, but they can also become wind tunnels, concentrating the force of gusts. Instead, find a storm shelter at the first sign of danger. If you can’t, some veteran drivers say that you should park with your cab facing into the wind to prevent blowing over.
6. Don’t be pressured into driving in unsafe situations. If you feel that the wind is too high to drive safely, don’t let dispatcher, other drivers, or your own desire to meet deadlines persuade you to keep driving. Just because another truck driver is hauling in high wind conditions does not mean that you have to do the same.