The Car and Truck Fleet and Leasing Management Magazine

Safety Tip: Driving in High Winds

March 13, 2017

VIDEO: What Might Shock You About Downed Power Lines

High winds in parts of the Midwest and Northeast last week led to extremely difficult driving conditions and a rash of downed power lines. Michigan saw gusts up to 68 mph, while New York saw them as high as 81 mph.

Meanwhile, the Northeast is bracing for a major blizzard due to hit on Tuesday, March 14.

Here’s some advice, provided by the Nevada Department of Transportation, on how to drive in high winds:

  • Plan ahead. Leave extra time, as your drive may take longer because of the need to drive more slowly in high winds.
  • Always wear a seatbelt.
  • Slow your speed to a safe driving speed and turn on headlights if needed to account for potentially lower visibility created by blowing dust, sand, snow or rain.
  • Keep your hands firmly on the wheel.
  • Make steering corrections when driving from wind-protected areas to unprotected areas. The wind may suddenly move your car when traveling from a protected to unprotected area.
  • Be aware of and maintain safe distances from other vehicles near you, particularly RVs, campers, trucks, buses, or trailers being towed. These vehicles could swing out and hit your car in sudden wind gusts.
  • Take extra care in a high-profile vehicle such as trucks, vans, SUVs, or when towing a trailer, since these are more prone to being pushed or flipped by high winds.
  • Watch for objects that could potentially blow into the roadway. Tree limbs may break and/or other debris may come loose during strong winds.
  • Listen to the radio for changes in weather conditions that could create more dangerous driving.
  • If winds are severe enough to prevent safe driving, pull over into a safe parking area (the shoulder of a busy roadway is not safe) and stop, making sure you are away from trees, power lines or other tall objects that could fall onto your vehicle. 
  • When arriving at your destination, avoid parking near trees, downed power lines and buildings.

In the event of downed power lines:

  • Never drive over downed power lines. Even if they have been knocked over by the wind, high-voltage wires may still be alive and very dangerous.
  • Avoid anything that may be touching downed lines, including vehicles or tree branches.
  • Report downed lines to your local utility emergency center and to the police. 

To watch a video demonstrating what to do if your vehicle comes in contact with a downed power line, click on the photo or link below the headline.

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