When we think about driving in “hazardous conditions” we often think about bad thunderstorms or heavy snow. But what about wind? For large trucks, the wind can be as dangerous as the worst rain or snow storm.
Why Wind Can Be Dangerous
Semi-trucks and other large commercial trucks are more susceptible to tipping or having accidents on the road because of the trailer’s “sail area.” This is the surface of the truck that creates thrust when wind blows against it. This thrust is what can cause a trailer to tip over on the road.
The larger the area (like a trailer that’s 53 feet long and nine feet high), the more pressure is created by the wind. When your driving speed is high in windy conditions, you’re adding pressure to the sail area. A large sail area and high speeds are a recipe for disaster when you’re driving in windy conditions.
Things to Remember when Driving in Windy Conditions
There are a few things that you can do before you get on the road to keep yourself and everyone else safe on the road.
- Make sure you secure doors and anything else that’s exposed on your truck before you get on the road. Anything that can flap and fly in the wind presents a hazard.
- Never skip a pre-trip inspection and make sure your cargo is loaded and secured correctly. Yes, the inspection is a requirement but take it seriously and make sure everything is taken care of properly before you get on the road.
- Keep your eye on the weather so you’re not surprised when bad weather and gusty winds hit. This way you can adjust your route or your speed before the winds arrive.
- Keep your eyes open for signs that you’re in a high wind area, like warning signs and wind socks.
- Understand that an empty trailer is more hazardous in windy weather than a full trailer because it weighs less.
- Slow down or pull over when the weather is bad, especially if your trailer is empty or you’re hauling a very large load.
Taking safety precautions might put you behind on delivery, but those same precautions will keep you safe, too. Don’t put your life at risk – or the lives of other drivers – in any bad weather conditions. With some preparation and a willingness to slow it down, you can handle the wind with no problems.
This Safety Meeting Series is brought to you by Gorilla Safety, the leading provider in fleet management services.