According to the Georgia Governor’s Office of Highway Safety, motor vehicle accidents are the number one cause of premature death in our state. Weather is the 10th biggest contributing factor to deaths in Georgia motor vehicle accidents. Different types of adverse weather can lead to a traffic collision, from sleet and snow to fog and glare. High winds are one form of weather that poses danger on our roads. Luckily, there are some windy driving tips that can help a driver to navigate in the face of gusty, blustery weather.
Nearly 25% of all accidents are estimated to be weather-related by the US Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Federal Highway Administration. This includes over 1.5 million accidents and more than 625,000 injuries on American roads every year.
Windy Driving Tips
The Federal Highway Administration notes the effects high wind speed can have on the roadway, traffic flow and operation of a motor vehicle. Winds can cause changes in road conditions by obstructing traffic lanes with debris or limiting visibility due to blowing dust, debris or snow.
Windy conditions also impede traffic flow by increasing the risk for an accident, reducing traffic speed and delaying travel time. The stability of a vehicle can be noticeably affected by winds, and when severe gusts are present, roads may be closed and certain vehicles may be restricted from roadways.
If wind has become strong enough to cause you concern while driving, it is recommended that you pull over and wait out the conditions. Check local reports to learn when the winds will pass, and find a coffee shop or motel if the bad weather is expected to last. If you absolutely have to drive, these tips can guide you in practicing safe driving in strong air currents.
As in any driving situation, speeding only increases your danger during periods of strong winds. Maintaining control of your vehicle is difficult when crosswinds are present, and even more so at higher speeds. Large vehicles such as trucks, SUVs, and vehicles towing a trailer are particularly susceptible to loss of control. If a vehicle is pushed off-course while driving at a high speed, there is little to no time to make a correction, and any attempt at doing so usually results in over-correction. High winds also reduce friction, which your tires need to brake and make turns.
Be Aware of Slippery Conditions
High winds can occur on a clear day, but more often than not, they are accompanied by rain, snow or more dangerous precipitation such as hail. Hydroplaning is dangerous in any conditions, but can lead to devastating wrecks during a gust of wind.
Get a Grip
Unstable weather requires a little more diligence on the steering wheel than on a clear, calm day. In such circumstances, you should keep both hands on the wheel at 9 and 3 (or 8 and 4). This position gives you the ability to react more quickly and correct the vehicle’s path during any sudden gusts or if another automobile suddenly moves into your path.
Know Where to Steer
Windy conditions, especially when gale-force gusts are involved, have the potential to push your car around the road. When this happens, a driver may need to correct the vehicle manually by steering either with or against the wind. This is especially important when driving into new terrain, entering multiple-lane highways and driving near unavoidable large vehicles.
Avoid Large Vehicles
The taller and narrower a vehicle is, the more likely it is to be affected by strong winds. Large vehicles such astrucks, buses and vans also do not typically have an aerodynamic frame, causing wind forces to act differently on the vehicle than a sports car. Large vehicles also do not have the advantage of downforce that cars closer to the road surface have. Keep your distance from all other vehicles when possible, and be particularly cautious aroundmotorcyclists. If you do pull over to wait out the wind, be aware that other automobiles have the potential to drift or veer into the shoulder, so it is best to wait somewhere outside the vehicle or pull off of the road into a parking area.
Don’t Forget about Debris
Flying dust and objects from gusty conditions may not usually be a threat, but in cases of severe winds, the debris caught in sudden breezes can be denser, heavier and more dangerous. Downed trees and other debris can easily cause property damage during strong storms, as well as creating road hazards. Remember to keep speed down, especially in areas where hanging or downed trees may present hazards, as hitting such debris at a high speed could be fatal.
Bypass the Bridge
One of the more dangerous decisions during windy conditions is driving over a bridge. If you can, it’s best to find an alternate route, rather than traversing a bridge. Due to the terrain a bridge is usually built over, winds can be channeled and blow both above and below the bridge, making it much easier for your car to be blasted right off the span.
As in all driving situations, alertness is critical to safety. Watch out for downed trees and falling power lines. If you see a compromised power line, pull over to a safe area and call 911 to report the issue.
You don’t have to be a boy scout to understand the importance of preparation. By keeping a few items handy in your vehicle, you can be prepared to meet the challenges of driving in high winds. It is wise to always have a fully-charged mobile phone (or a car charger) on hand in case of an accident or other emergency. Warm, weatherproof clothing can be useful if you need to exit your vehicle in a windstorm. A first aid kit is an excellent item to keep in your glove compartment and can be handy in the aftermath of any collision.
Careful planning can help you to avoid windy conditions as well. Plan for indoor activities when high winds are predicted. If you must drive, check local weather and traffic bulletins on a regular basis, and follow any advisories that may be in effect. Some of these include lowered speed limits, detours and road or bridge closures.
Contact our Georgia Personal Injury Attorneys
Approximately 625,000 Georgia auto accidents may be attributed to weather-related causes each year. These windy driving tips can help you avoid an accident, but sometimes a collision is unavoidable.
If you or someone you know has been injured in a weather-related accident, the victim may be entitle to compensation. If you are seeking recourse for your injuries, The Eichholz Law Firm has the knowledge, experience and resources to help you. We understand how dangerous windy conditions can be and the dangers presented by other vehicles on the road.