Storm Ciara: How to drive safely in strong winds

How to drive safely in strong winds

Storm Ciara is set to bring strong and damaging winds this weekend. The Met Office has issued a yellow weather warning which covers the entire UK and is in force from 6pm Saturday.

Winds will reach 50-60mph across inland areas, with gusts of up to 80mph expected in exposed locations.

Neil Armstrong of the Met Office said: “An extremely strong jet stream flowing from North America will be steering a succession of low-pressure systems towards the UK at least into the middle of next week. The relative predictability of this pattern has provided an early warning and has given us the certainty to be able to name this storm four days ahead.” 

No-one likes driving in a nasty storm. Heavy winds and rain are enough to encourage you to stay indoors. So what precautions can you take to make things a little easier when driving in Storm Ciara?

Of course, it makes sense to stay at home or to delay your journey if a storm is forecast. GEM Motoring Assist says alternatives should be considered by everyone, when conditions warrant it.

Driving in a storm

“We want all road users to be aware of how risk increases when weather conditions become more challenging,” said GEM road safety officer Neil Worth.

“So, if your journey is not necessary, then consider delaying it, or using public transport if available.”

Stay safe in strong winds

Driving in a storm

So you’re on the road, and it’s getting rough. What can you do to be as safe as possible when driving in these conditions?

  • Slow down: the faster you drive, the more difficult it becomes to maintain control in crosswinds. Take particular care if you’re driving a high-sided vehicle or towing a trailer or caravan
  • Hold tight: keep both hands on the wheel and be prepared for sudden gusts.
  • Give cyclists and motorcyclists extra room when overtaking.
  • Be prepared for stronger winds and sudden gusts when driving in exposed areas or over bridges.
  • Keep your distance, especially from high-sided vehicles and caravans.
  • Avoid towing a trailer, caravan or horsebox if possible.
  • Avoid using a roof box, as these can increase the car’s susceptibility to crosswinds.
  • Look out for debris in the road, especially after blind bends. Also look out for low-hanging branches, especially at night when they might not be picked up by your headlights.
  • Park away from trees, telephone lines, power lines and buildings.
  • Expect delays, speed restrictions and bridge closures. You might need to change your route, so leave extra time for your journey.
  • Listen to the weather forecast for updates. Remember, it’s often better to delay your journey if possible.
  • Keep an eye on traffic updates, either via local radio, social media or your sat-nav system.
  • With wind comes rain, quite often, so make sure your wipers, lights and tyres are up to the job.

‘Be prepared’ for windy conditions

VW damaged by tree after strong winds

“Strong wind can occur just about anywhere, but it can be more common in wide open spaces. Areas for concern also include bridges, exposed stretches of road and cuttings where roads pass through hilly areas. These locations can act as funnels for wind.

“Expect strong gusts, keep an eye on any large trucks or vehicles towing trailers near you, as their drivers may have difficulty staying in their lane. Be particularly careful around pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists, who may all be affected by strong winds.

Driving in a storm

“Heavy rain makes driving hazardous. So please slow down and turn your lights on to ensure you can see more clearly, and so that other vehicles can see you. Do not rely on automatic headlights.

“Give other vehicles more space, and double the distance between you and the vehicle in front, so you have more time to react and stop safely if you need to.”

Click here for the latest UK weather warnings issued by the Met Office.

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