What motorists should do when caught in strong winds

Defensive driving is essential when strong winds are present. Picture: MasterDrive via Motorpress

Defensive driving is essential when strong winds are present. Picture: MasterDrive via Motorpress

Published Apr 8, 2024


The severe weather conditions experienced in Cape Town over the weekend were nothing short of scary, particularly for people out on the road.

As many of us would have seen on social media, there was even an instance where both the trailer of a truck and a caravan were blown off a bridge.

In many parts of the province trees have fallen across the road, and a warning was issued to drivers to stay off the road. Similar warnings have been issued for Monday as the province braces for another Level 9 storm warning.

Eugene Herbert, CEO of advanced driving company MasterDrive, says unless it is an absolute necessity, drivers are well-advised to stay home and avoid both the wind and storms.

“Strong winds present a number of challenges for drivers. They can make staying on a straight course difficult, blow trees over and into the road, blow other debris into your path and cause challenges for pedestrians.

“Strong gusts of wind can catch you by surprise. Wind can also affect handling, braking and overtaking, and large vehicles can struggle even more as they catch more gusts,” Herbert, said.

However, for those who simply cannot avoid being on the road, Herbert provides the following tips:

  • Listen to news or social media reports that could provide information on regions affected more than others.
  • Be cautious in areas that are particularly exposed or dangerous in high winds such as open stretches of road, tunnels through mountainous areas or roads that run under power lines.
  • Never drive over downed power lines.
  • Avoid crossing high, exposed bridges.
  • Look out for road signage warning drivers of areas vulnerable to strong winds.
  • Be alert for debris or larger items that could be blown into the road.
  • Be cautious of vehicles that are towing as they are susceptible to cross winds.
  • Avoid overtaking trucks and larger vehicles without space to take evasive manoeuvres.
  • Do not drive with an overloaded vehicle or with items protruding from the windows in strong winds.
  • If you are driving and the winds become so strong that you feel at risk, rather find a safe place to stop.

It is vital to ensure that you are driving defensively for the entire trip, Herbert warned.

“Defensive driving is your best strategy to emerge out of this dangerous situation safely. Be alert to the actions of other or obstacles created by the wind and drive in a manner that gives you plenty of space and time to react appropriately,” he said.

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