April 29, 2017

Van driving tips: Staying safe in high winds

van driving

You can’t see it, but you know it’s there. The sudden ‘wobble’ of your van tells you as much. It may look like any other road or carriageway, but the hidden danger posed by high winds can easily catch you off guard.

Windy weather can cause van drivers all sorts of problems on the road. These problems not only make driving slightly more difficult, but they also increase the number of potential hazards around you.

Van driving tips for negotiating high winds

Always check the weather and traffic before you start your journey. Avoid any routes that are congested or could pose a hazard – like open areas and bridges – if possible.

When it’s windy, make sure you’re alert and vigilant – more so than usual. Drivers of compact or small vans may not feel the impact of the gusts of wind but motorcyclists, pedestrians and drivers of large vans, buses, lorries or trailers certainly will. In fact, high winds can cause these larger vehicles to swerve suddenly. Be aware, keep your distance – and slow down.

It is a lot more difficult to control a vehicle travelling at speed during a crosswind. By driving at a slower pace, you are better able to anticipate potential hazards such as strong winds and adjust your driving as you approach. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.

A lot of new vans come equipped with all manner of safety-focussed technology, including the Ford Transit Custom and Mercedes Sprinter.

New van technology

The Ford Transit Custom offers standard features like Side Wind Stabilisation to help you stay in lane, Trailer Sway Control to counteract trailer sway and keep it under control and Emergency Brake Assist, which increases braking pressure in the event of an emergency.

Among the Mercedes Sprinter’s driver aids are Crosswind Assist, which is essentially the same as Ford’s Side Wind Stabilisation. It also has a feature called Lane Keeping Assist which gives the driver audible and visible warnings when leaving the lane unintentionally. Another useful feature is Blind Spot Assist which help you avoid a potential accident with an audible and visible warning when a vehicle is detected in the blind spot.

This may sound silly, but you should keep both your hands on the steering wheel at all times. You know, the old ’10 and 2’ position you last adopted when doing your driving test. Conditions can change quickly and you need to be able to adjust your grip or driving style at a moment’s notice. If you happen to be on a long journey during adverse weather, remember to take a break if you need it – the constant demands on your brain, hands and feet can be tiring.

Remember, British weather is predictably unpredictable! Slowing down and staying alert will only help you anticipate the conditions you are trying to negotiate.