For commercial truck drivers, high winds are a nightmare to deal with. These violent bursts of air can catch truckers off-guard at anytime and make it more difficult to control an 80,000-pound tractor-trailer. Especially if you’re hauling a double.
Of course, lethal gusts of wind are commonly associated with tornadoes or hurricanes, but strong winds are occurring more frequently. And that means truck drivers should be on guard.
Windier Over the Last Decade
According to a study published in Nature,ground-level winds are getting stronger. Researchers looked at a number of trends in the weather data to determine that these winds are not only getting faster, but also more frequent.
For example, one data point showed that wind turbines produced about 17% more energy in 2017 than in 2010. If that seems small, imagine if you were driving in heavy winds, and the wind was 17% more powerful.
The increased strength and frequency of ground-level gusts is mainly due to how wind is generated by fluctuations in temperature.
To Drive or Not to Drive
When the weather is poor, truckers are advised to slow down to a third of the speed limit. But that’s just a general recommendation. If you think it’s too dangerous to drive, then you’re probably right.
If your trailer is shifting from side-to-side, you should consider going even slower or simply pulling over for a while.
Unfortunately, because drivers are paid by the mile, many drivers don’t like waiting around for the weather to improve. Even if the driver doesn’t fear a negative reaction from their company or dispatcher, they still want to drive because that’s how you make money.
But keep in mind that if you end up in the hospital or lose the cargo, you won’t be making a profit anyway.
Route Planning Is Now a Necessity.
Wind advisories are announced to ensure the safety of everyone. Truckers included. We highly recommend using these to your advantage by checking the weather status of the area you are about to drive into.
If you don’t already check the weather forecasts for your route planning, it’s time to start.
Keep in mind the following tips for driving in high-intensity winds:
- Empty trailers weigh less and have less resistance to wind, which means you are more likely to have an accident
- Check your surroundings. If tall grass or other wind susceptible items are leaning over longer than a few seconds, or blown far away from their original source, you may be in danger
- Slipping on a wet road when there is no black ice is a sign the winds are exacerbating a dangerous situation.
If you know an area is forecast to have heavy winds, consider finding an alternative route if you absolutely cannot afford to just pull over. But remember, no run is worth losing your life over.