As severe weather alerts warn of gales which could reach 100mph, road safety charity the Institute of Advanced Motorists(IAM) is offering tips and advice on how to keep safe in the storms.

Gale force winds have the potential fell trees and tip high-sided vehicles, bringing with them widespread damage and disruption to travel networks. If it is looking blustery outside, make sure you take the following precautions:

Plan your journey

  • It is always a good idea to check whether there is an alternate route with less exposure to the elements and less risk of fallen trees.
  • Be ready for the effects of side-winds, not only on your vehicle but also on other road users, particularly motorcyclists and flat-sided vehicles such as lorries.
  • Give cyclists, motorcyclists, lorries and buses extra space as they can be blown around by side-winds easily.
  • Travel slowly enough to cope with sudden or strong gusts. Wind can get under a car and reduce its handling and braking significantly. Driving past buildings or overtaking high-sided vehicles can also result in a sudden wind force from the side as you clear them.
  • Strong winds are not constant, they are usually gusty so ensure you hold the steering wheel firmly.
  • Watch trees and bushes on the roadside – their branches can show you how strong the wind is. Keep an eye on what is happening to other vehicles, too – where they are affected will give you a pre warning, as strong winds can unsettle cars and even change the direction of travel.
  • Look well ahead, that way you don’t need to take your eye off the road and you can see any windy patches before you get to them.
  • Be careful of debris, try and have space beside you in case you need to dodge it.
  • It is important to travel at an appropriate speed for the conditions. This could mean you are better able to cope with a tree which has fallen across the road, around a bend where it cannot be seen far in advance.

Sarah Lingard


February 12, 2014