If you have ever spent any time driving on a freeway for an extended period of time you probably know that high winds can greatly affect your driving. What you might not know, however, is that wind can be a semi truck driver’s biggest enemy. It takes a lot of skill and focus to drive a vehicle as large as a semi in windy conditions, so be safer after reading these driving tips from our sister website’s blog.
WINDY DAY DRIVING TIPS FOR TRUCKERS
February 17, 2017 | Taylor Ernst
California’s mountains and coastlines can make for a beautiful drive, whether you are behind the wheel for business or pleasure. However, it is almost always windy in both of these environments. For regular cars and trucks, that’s not too much of an issue. Passenger vehicles are aerodynamically designed to deal with wind. For semi trucks, however, wind can cause serious problems.
When the wind is blowing hard enough, it can actually topple a truck’s trailer. Even though such an incident only happens when the wind is really strong, a gusty day can cause all sorts of problems for semi trucks. Follow these tips to make sure you are driving your truck safely when dealing with high winds in California.
Follow the Law
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations has established laws when it comes to driving in hazardous conditions — high wind included. 49 CFR 392.14 dictates that:
Extreme caution in the operation of a commercial motor vehicle shall be exercised when hazardous conditions.. adversely affect visibility or traction. Speed shall be reduced when such conditions exist. If conditions become sufficiently dangerous, the operation of the commercial motor vehicle shall be discontinued and shall not be resumed until the commercial motor vehicle can be safely operated.
If wind is causing you to swerve or otherwise driving unsafely, slow down. It’s much easier to control a rig at low speeds, as high speed causes your truck to displace more air, which creates low pressure — not a safe scenario with wind. You can also gear down to give your truck more power by providing more power to the drive axles. If these techniques don’t work, pull over and wait until it is safe to drive again.
Look for Warning Signs
Chances are, you check the weather before you set out for the day. Be sure to check wind speed as well as other conditions. This can give you a good idea of what you will face on your drive through California. However, even if the forecast doesn’t call for high wind, conditions can change in an instant.
As you drive, watch the trees and grass to determine how hard the wind is blowing. If you pass an airfield, you will likely see a windsock. Know how to interpret this tool so you can determine whether or not you need to slow down and/or stop. Of course, knowing the feel of your truck and how much the wind is battering it will likely be your first indicator of any danger or hazardous conditions.
Be Alert, and Know Your Load
Wearing a seatbelt while you are driving a semi truck is mandatory, according to federal law. If you are someone who sometimes takes this as a guideline, make sure you buckle up under windy conditions. If your truck does tip over, your seatbelt will keep you from being thrown out of the cab, and will help dissipate the force from the crash across your body. In addition, keeping both hands on the wheel while you drive will give you greater control over your rig when the wind is blowing.
The load in your trailer can also have a major impact on how much the wind affects your truck. The heavier your cargo, the less likely the wind will push you around. However, even if you have a full trailer, the wind can be a factor. This is especially true if your load is top-heavy. Know how your load is arranged, and how much it can potentially shift.
Driving Around Trucks on a Windy Day
If you are driving around semi trucks on a windy day, take extra precaution. Consider the regular tips for driving around semi trucks, and follow them even more closely. If you are beside a semi truck, get either ahead or behind it. Even if the truck doesn’t tip, it may be momentarily blown into the next lane — and right into you.
If you are injured in a semi truck accident in San Luis Obispo, you may be entitled to compensation. Contact the attorneys at Ernst Law Group today for a free, no-obligation consultation.