Only overtake if appropriate
Those at the wheel need to be paying full attention when spring storms sweep across the country. “The strength and direction of the wind can shift abruptly at any time, changing the driving conditions,” warn the DEKRA experts. “Sometimes a single strong gust of wind is enough to push a vehicle out of its lane, meaning the driver has to quickly countersteer,” says accident expert Thomas Gut. “It is just as important in these situations for drivers to take their foot off the gas as well. Driving more slowly means there is more time to react and dangerous situations can be more easily defused.”
There is particularly high risk on bridges, along roads through wooded areas, and when exiting tunnels. Drivers can often be surprised by sudden gusts of wind in these locations. For this reason, many exposed locations have warning signs or windsocks. “The risks posed by crosswinds should not be underestimated when overtaking trucks or buses. In these situations, drivers need to correct their steering when entering the slipstream of the vehicle ahead. Then, after overtaking, they need to brace their vehicle against the wind again,” explains Gut.
If the storm becomes too strong, it may be advisable to wait until the wind subsides before overtaking. Under certain circumstances, the vehicle being overtaken may also suddenly move out of lane due to a strong gust of wind. Particular care needs to be taken when driving vans, RVs, and travel trailers, or when the vehicle has a roof box installed. The large surface areas on the side of these vehicles mean that high wind forces are to be expected here. In extreme cases, the wind can even roll these vehicles over.
“The most important things to remember when driving in stormy weather are to slow down, hold the wheel firmly with two hands, and only overtake if it feels appropriate to do so,” advises the accident expert. “Pay close attention to warning signs and windsocks, such as those on highway bridges. If wind speeds are high, it is often better for drivers to stop their journey and wait in a sheltered spot until the situation has calmed down.” However, sheltering near trees should be avoided due to the risk of branches breaking off or entire trees being toppled.