Tractortrailers have a high center of gravity that makes them vulnerable to strong crosswinds. While in motion, this can possibly lead to one of two “Critical Crashes”: lane change or loss of control. A lane change crash can occur if the high winds push the unit out of its lane and into an adjacent object or vehicle. Likewise, strong gusts can cause the driver to lose control and either roll the vehicle over or force it off the road surface.
To prevent crashes caused by high winds, professional truck drivers should be prepared when traveling to areas of the country that are prone to high winds and monitor weather forecasts in case conditions worsen. In addition, here are some tips to help reduce the risk of a loss when faced with high winds:
- Ascertain the strength of the wind in the areas being traveled to. Certain areas, as well as times of the year and day, may be a higher risk.
- Factor in the trailer type and commodity being hauled. The higher the center of gravity of the load combined with a large surface area of the trailer, the greater the risk of being blown over.
- As wind speed increases, reduce vehicle speed to improve traction, vehicle control, and recovery time.
- If weather conditions make it difficult to control the vehicle, find a safe place to pull over. Sheltered parking is best, but if this is unavailable, try parking alongside a building.
- If parked outside in extremely cold weather, try to park the back of the trailer into the wind to protect the engine.
Reprinted with permission from Great West Casualty Company