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Driving a Semi in Windy Conditions

Semi-truck driving down the highway

Driving a semi-truck can be challenging enough without the added difficulties caused by high winds. In fact, driving a semi in high winds can be just as dangerous for large trucks driving in icy or snowy conditions.

Dangers of Driving a Semi in High Winds

Large, bulky vehicles like semis, are more sensitive to crosswinds due to their shape and size. Wind is also especially dangerous because it isn’t nearly as predictable as other hazardous conditions like rain, ice, or snow. Wind gusts strong enough to move a truck can seemingly come out of nowhere.

Wind Speed That Can Tip a Semi

Wind speeds of near 60 mph can flip a semi. However, even moderate to strong winds can be pretty dangerous. Consider the sides of a large truck similar to the sails on a boat that catches the wind and moves the entire vehicle. In the same way, winds can cause trucks to move around the roadway in unwanted and dangerous ways.

Tips For Driving in Windy Conditions

The following are specific ways you can use to counteract the effects of high winds and be safe on the roadways even as a semi-driver during high winds. Keep the following tips in mind:

  • Check the Weather: The first step to take when having to drive a semi in windy weather is to check the weather. Be sure to check the wind speed chart for semi-trucks and look for high wind alerts.
  • Slow Down: As with any hazardous road conditions, like heavy rain or snow and ice, it’s important above and foremost to slow down when high winds are a problem. Doing so allows you to make any adjustments necessary if your trailer is blown around. It is a myth that you can outrun the wind. You can’t, and wouldn’t you rather tip over at 30 mph instead of 60mph?
  • Secure Doors and Load: Make sure all your truck doors are locked tight and your load is secure. Winds can cause doors to fly open or cargo to move if it is not properly secured. While it is also important to make sure your load is secured and doors are locked on any trip, when winds are in the forecast, it is even that much more important.
  • Pay Attention to Your Surrounds: This includes being aware of road conditions, the landscape, and other cars. It’s also important to know your route and be aware of any bridges or narrow roadways that might be upcoming. Look at road signs and note whether the wind is picking up. Just be aware of everything going on around you.
  • Keep a Firm Grip on The Steering Wheel: It’s always important to have a good handle on your truck, but when the wind is up, it’s even more important to keep a firm grip on your steering wheel. When it’s windy, your truck can be forced to move one way or the other. Keeping your hands firmly on your steering wheel will ensure you can course-correct as necessary.
  • Drive in the Lower Gears: Driving in a lower gear can help raise your engine revolutions which gives you the reserve power needed for strong wind gusts. It’s also not a bad idea to put your hazard lights on as well to alert other drivers that wind is currently a problem.
  • Check Your Trucks Tires and Brakes: Make sure your truck tires and brakes are in good working order before you drive in a high wind situation.
  • Driving in the Center Lane: If high winds are moving your semi around too much, and you are worried about ending up in a ditch or the opposite lane, consider driving in the center lane.

Keep the above tips in mind when driving your semi in windy conditions. These tips along with adding wind deflectors to your truck can make driving even in high winds possible.

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