People that have never driven a truck may not think of wind as a risk factor in this profession. We in the trucking business, on the other hand, know that driving a semi truck in high wind is as challenging as driving in snowy or icy conditions. Whether you’re a company driver or an owner operator, you should know how to prepare for driving in windy conditions, as well as what to do if you encounter a high wind unexpectedly.
How Can Wind Affect Truck Driving?
We all know how snow, rain, and icy roads affect truck driving, but driving in high wind is rarely talked about. Semi trucks can be affected by a strong wind much more seriously than other, smaller vehicles because of the so-called sail effect. This effect is the result of the wind impacting large surfaces which can in turn generate thrust. Since truck trailers have much larger surfaces than commercial vehicles, they can be strongly affected by a wind that will have minimal impact on a passenger car.
Strong wind impacts can thus lead to the loss of control over the truck, which means the issue should be taken seriously.
8 Tips on How to Drive a Semi Truck in High Wind
Striving to raise awareness about the safety issues as we always do and trying to make open roads a safer place for everyone, we have compiled a list of advice on driving a truck in windy conditions.
Check the Weather before the Trip
It’s very well-known that every trip preparation must include a weather check. But, as we already said, the wind is often underestimated as a risk factor, so it can sometimes be overlooked. It’s extremely important to check the wind speed along with looking out for snow and rain. A rule of thumb is that any wind over 60 mph poses a risk for your trailer. If the wind speed is between 40 and 50 mph, you should be cautious and take other factors into account.
Keep in mind that the speed of the wind isn’t always constant and that random gusts can create even more problems, so make sure you have the right info on that as well. You should add one of the reliable weather apps to the list of trucker apps that you regularly use so that you can stay updated on the road conditions while driving.
Inspect your Route and the Surroundings
Not all areas are equally windy, so you should take some time before the trip to learn what kind of reputation the route you’re planning to take has. If part of your route is exceptionally challenging, like a bridge over a narrow river valley, it’s better to take an alternative road.
Don’t Forget to Secure the Doors
Inspect your truck to the last detail. Secure your doors and tie-down anything that’s hanging loose or has the potential to come loose.
Know the Truck Load in Your Trailer
The weight of your load determines how susceptible your semi-truck is to the wind. Of course, a heavier trailer is harder to overturn, so the more weight you’re hauling the less impact the wind will have on your vehicle. When you’re running with an empty trailer, you should be extra cautious in windy conditions.
Whenever you come across road conditions that are less than ideal, it’s wise for you to slow down. Whether it’s rain, snow, low visibility, or any other obstruction, you can’t go wrong by keeping your speed at a reasonably low level.
Park and wait for it to stop
If the wind gets exceptionally high, it may be better to pull over until it settles a bit. It’s understood that you don’t want to waste any time, but driving in unsafe conditions is never a good option. No timely delivery is worth your safety and the safety of other motorists.
Try driving at night
The wind speed may be lower at night, so it could be easier for you to wait for the sun to go down before you go on with your ride. Of course, night truck driving has its own downsides, so make sure to be prepared accordingly.
Use wind to your advantage
If the wind is blowing in your back, it may actually come to you as an advantage. Positive wind can reduce your fuel consumption and thus save you money. Still, you have to stay careful, because the wind direction can change quickly. Don’t let it surprise you.
Like with any other challenging aspect of trucking, driving a semi truck in high wind will become easier and more intuitive as you gain experience. Every trucking veteran will know how to behave in windy conditions without much thought. But, until you get the experience needed to drive confidently in any circumstances, try to learn from those who are willing to share their knowledge like we are. For more tips, follow us on our YouTube channel Extra Mile International Inc Trucking Company, and visit our Instagram profile @extramiletx.