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driving in high winds

Bad weather causes car accidents — roughly a quarter of them, according to the Department of Transportation. And high winds, tornadoes, hurricanes, and tropical storms can change the way you drive. We'll explain how to handle the roads if you find yourself out in stormy conditions.

High wind safety tips

If you live in the Midwest, tornado warnings are probably all too familiar. And if you live in Florida, North Carolina, New Jersey, or another East Coast state, you may already keep an eye out for hurricane warnings before hitting the road.

This won't surprise you: if a storm's on its way, it's best not to drive. But if you're caught on the road or just can't avoid it, use these tips to your advantage.

Slow down

Slow down

Crosswinds make it harder to control your vehicle, especially if you drive a big one (truck, RV, bus, etc.).

Don't stop on a bridge

Don't stop on a bridge

As one infamous tragedy reminds us, stopping your car when the wind is strong can be more dangerous than driving through it. In 1989, a woman driving a small '87 Yugo stopped her car on the Mackinac Bridge in Michigan. Gale-force winds helped carry her car over the bridge's barrier, and it was later determined that the act of stopping (along with the car's light weight) made it easier for the wind to push her car off the bridge.

Keep both hands on the wheel

Keep both hands on the wheel

Whenever you drive through unpredictable conditions, keep your hands at 9 and 3 (or 8 and 4). This'll help you react to sudden gusts or unexpected moves by drivers around you.

Stay away from trucks and buses

Stay away from trucks and buses

If you think it's hard to control your car during high winds, imagine what it must be like to drive a bus or semi. Steer clear.

Watch for downed power lines

Watch for downed power lines

High winds can knock down power lines. Beware of them during and after high winds and call 9-1-1 if you come across any.

Watch out for flying debris

Watch out for flying debris

Crazy winds can cause building damage, downed trees, and other debris to fly into the road and toward your car. It may take awhile for this stuff to get cleaned up, so be a little extra cautious for a few days after the storm.

Expect the unexpected, especially if the wind suddenly calms

Expect the unexpected, especially if the wind suddenly calms

You might be in the eye of the storm, which means it's far from over. Keep your guard up until you're able to get off the road.

Avoid flooded areas

Avoid flooded areas

Not only are floods bad for your vehicle, but they may be housing hidden electrical currents if a power line fell nearby. Don't try to drive through them — and never attempt to walk or swim through them.

Prepare an emergency kit

Prepare an emergency kit

Before you leave the house, try to get these items in the car just in case:

  • Food and water
  • Extra gas (this will come in handy if you're stuck in traffic while trying to evacuate)
  • Cell phone and charger

Head here for more guidance on prepping a world-class emergency road kit.

Wind damage and car insurance

Comprehensive coverage, which is optional unless it's required by your lease or lending company, can help pay for repairs if your car's damaged by inclement weather. If you live in a frequently windy area, it can be a valuable addition to your car insurance policy.

Related link

Driving during floods
Is severe flooding a danger in your city? Check out our article and learn how to stay safe.