How to drive in strong winds

Driving in strong winds

Autumn is well upon us, which means the nights are drawing in. Coupled with the increase in wet and windy weather this can make for treacherous driving conditions. While many motorists respect the danger that wet weather can pose, many seem to underestimate the wind. Driving in windy weather can be extremely hazardous. So whether you’re driving across the country to visit relatives over the festive season or battling along with the school run, follow our advice to stay save through the colder months this year.

Preparing for windy conditions

If weather is particularly severe at any point over the coming months, then consider whether your journey is really necessary. In other words, only travel when you have no other option.

Motorcyclists should avoid riding in high winds wherever possible, as cross winds can make it very difficult to control a motorbike.

If you’re driving along and conditions get too difficult to cope with then pull over if it is safe to do so. Caall a family member or friend to let them know that you have stopped for a little while if it is legal and safe to do so. If you must continue your journey, then follow these tips.

Pack provisions – if there is a chance that severe weather could interrupt your journey or cause a breakdown then make sure you pack some provisions. Some warm/weatherproof clothes, a fully charged phone, a drink and some food should be the bare minimum.

Stay informed – if you must travel then listen to local news and weather forecasts which will inform you of any road closures. There’s nothing worse than being stranded because of an avoidable road closure.

Plan your journey – plan your route before you leave and see if there’s an alternative route that leaves you less vulnerable to any extreme weather. Let people know that you’re travelling in case you get stuck and are unable to call them.

Driving in windy conditions

Watch your speed – extreme weather such as high winds can affect the both the handling and braking of your car. By slowing down you’ll reduce the impact that strong gusts of wind will have on your vehicle.

Take extra care when overtaking – if it’s windy then your course can be altered by a sudden gust of wind. Bear this in mind when passing high-sided vehicles or motorbikes. Remember do not attempt a manoeuvre unless you are certain that it is safe to do so.

Hold the wheel – make sure you have a firm grip on the steering wheel at all times. Strong winds are rarely constant so a surprise gust can easily take you by surprise. When gripping the wheel, don’t grip too tightly as this can reduce your own movements.

Allow room for others – Give large vehicles, motorbikes and cyclists more room when passing. They can easily get blown about by strong winds. Also keep your distance with the vehicle in front of you.

Be vigilant – keep an eye on other vehicles on the road ahead. Sometimes they can warn you of something that is coming up. If you see another vehicle being blown off course then you know that you can expect some heavy gusts of wind.

Take extra care in the following situations:

  • When crossing bridges
  • When passing vehicles with caravans
  • Using roof boxes
  • Loose debris on the road

Think where you park – even when parking it’s important to be considerate. When high winds are present avoid parking next to large trees, buildings or other structures that could fall foul to strong winds.


Driving in windy weather isn’t too dangerous providing you respect the elements and change your driving style accordingly. Plan properly and allow extra time for your journey. In any case it’s better to take longer travelling or to arrive late than it is to be involved in a collision. Stay safe out there.

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Is it safe to drive in strong winds?

While it's usually safe to drive in strong winds, listen to news broadcasts to find out whether or not it is safe to do so. In this case only drive if necessary

Is it okay to overtake in strong winds?

Use your own judgement to decide whether an overtaking maneuver is safe. If you're not sure, don't risk it. In windy conditions take extra care when passing cyclists, motorcyclists or high-sided vehicles such as vans and lorries.

How we reviewed this article:

Our experts continually monitor motor industry news & research, and we update our articles when new information becomes available.

  • 7th November 2023
    Current Article - By Gary McKrill
  • 9th November 2023
    Checked & Reviewed - By Sjoerd Bakker
  • 7th November 2023
    Copy Edited - By Gary McKrill
  • 1st May 2024
    Reviewed - By Gary McKrill

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