Safety Tips for Driving in High Winds
Here in the state of Michigan, high winds are a possibility at any time of year. We might get strong winds along with a winter snowstorm, with a strong thunderstorm during the summer, or even on days when there isn’t a storm of any kind. But when people think about weather conditions that can make driving more dangerous, strong wind probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. A heavy thunderstorm that makes it hard for drivers to see? Sure. A blizzard or ice storm that makes roads slippery? Absolutely. But does high wind really make driving more dangerous? According to the Federal Highway Administration, approximately 21% of all car accidents each year are weather related. This number covers all types of weather conditions, including wind.
High winds can pose a hazard to drivers in a few different ways. In some cases, winds can be strong enough that drivers have a difficult time maintaining control over their cars. If strong winds are combined with snow, blowing snow can reduce visibility for drivers. In more rural areas, high winds can also cause dirt or sand to blow around. (According to the Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning, severe crosswinds, blowing snow, and blowing sand/soil/dirt were involved in a total of 1,633 Michigan car crashes in 2021.) High winds can also result in road obstructions, such as trash cans getting blown into a street or large branches that have fallen from nearby trees.
Since high winds can be risky for drivers, what can they do to stay safe?
Driving Safety Tips for High Winds
First and foremost, it’s important to plan ahead. Consider whether or not it’s safe to be driving at all. For example, are there tornadoes in the area? Or is there rain or snow that could affect your visibility? Also, think about which routes you would be driving. Highways and expressways can be particularly dangerous since driving at higher rates of speed amplifies the effects of high winds. So if you need to drive in high winds, stick to roads with lower speed limits.
When winds are high, one of the best things drivers can do is slow down and keep a firm grip on the steering wheel. Since strong winds can affect vehicle maneuvers, especially when driving at higher speeds, slowing down gives you an advantage if you’re hit with a sudden gust of wind. If the wind does push your vehicle off course, try to get back on track gently and be careful not to overcorrect.
As you drive, increase your following distance from other vehicles in case drivers in front of you need to stop suddenly, lose control of their vehicle, or need extra time to maneuver their car. It’s also a good idea to avoid driving near vehicles like trucks, RVs, moving vans, and other types of vehicles with tall sides. These types of vehicles are called high-profile vehicles and their design makes them more likely to be affected by strong winds, such as being blown off course or even knocked over. Vehicles towing a trailer should also be avoided.
It’s always important for drivers to be extremely mindful of their surroundings, but it’s particularly important when driving in high winds. Not only do drivers need to keep an eye out for other vehicles on the road, but they need to watch out for things like debris blown into the road and downed power lines. If you see a downed power line in the road, do not drive over it or touch anything that may be touching the downed power line.
Contact a Michigan Car Accident Lawyer
When weather conditions are bad, it’s critical that drivers take all reasonable precautions to protect themselves and others on the road. If you’ve been injured by a driver who was diving negligently, don’t hesitate to contact a car accident lawyer. At Scott Goodwin Law, you’ll be able to speak to an attorney experienced in helping car accident cases in the state of Michigan get the justice they deserve. Contact us today for a free consultation and find out how we can help you.
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