Why Strong Winds are Serious Hazards for Truck Drivers
When most people think of inclement weather, their minds turn to storms, lightning, or heavy snow. However, one of the most dangerous weather conditions for truckers is high winds. Because of the long, flat sides of trailers, commercial trucks can be blown off the road in windy conditions, risking the safety of the trucker and other drivers.
A Problem for All Drivers
This February, a Wyoming police officer got a firsthand look at why it’s important to be vigilant in windy conditions. A dramatic dashcam video shows a rig hit by a 70 mile-per-hour wind gust. Truckers must respect windy conditions, know how to safely navigate their trucks in the conditions, and know when to park their rigs.
Driving Safe on Windy Days
Pay attention to weather and wind conditions in the areas where you are traveling. Emergency radio stations will keep you updated on specific situations. Heed any restrictions or warnings about piloting commercial vehicles. Some states have regulations in place regarding the weather and trucking, so do your research before you hit the road.
In more moderate conditions it’s safer to continue driving. However, be mentally prepared to prevent accidents. When driving in high winds:
- Drive slowly. High speed can create low-pressure areas around your truck, which can put you at greater risk of toppling when faced by high-pressure crosswinds.
- Know your load. Driving a truck with a light or underweight load during windy conditions can be risky. Trucks with lighter loads have reduced traction on drive axels and are easier to blow over. Also, pay attention to the load’s center of gravity – a load that is heavier to one side of the trailer can create a tip-over risk and be more susceptible to crosswinds.
- Increase your following distance. You need ample time to react if you must slow down unexpectedly to avoid obstacles or other drivers, so give vehicles in front of and beside you more room. Braking distance is affected by weather conditions.
- Know the forecast. Will the winds taper off in a couple of hours or worsen as the day goes on? You should check the weather every morning to know what to expect.
- Keep an eye out for problem areas along your route. Some zones have higher winds, even on calm days. Look out for road signs and wind socks that can give you an indication of current conditions. Bridges, overpasses, and plains areas with few trees can be dangerous when winds pick up. Stay on top of weather conditions when traveling through these areas.
- Pay attention. Never drive while distracted, but it’s even more important to be mindful when conditions are less than perfect. Never text or use a hand-held cell phone while driving. Buckle up and keep both hands on the wheel and both eyes on the road. Trust Your Instinct. You should never be on the road if you don’t feel safe. Account for weather information and road warnings, and don’t be afraid to pull over. Your life is always more valuable than a load, so keep safety your top priority.
http://www.ddtrucksonline.com/blog/m.blog/60/7-safety-tips-for-driving-a-truck-in-high-wind http://www.truckingsos.com/inclement-weather-conditions/ http://www.truck-drivers-money-saving-tips.com/driving-in-wind.html