While the Denver area isn’t usually Twister territory we get our fair share of heavy winds. Compared to driving in heavy rain or a bizzard wind may seem like a minor risk, but this weather condition deserves special consideration from drivers. Strong wind is more common in wide open spaces but can occur anywhere. Areas for concern also include highway overpasses, tunnels and ‘road cuts’ through mountainous areas that can act as funnels for wind.
The following tips can help keep you safe on the road when encountering heavy winds.
- Always wear a seatbelt.
- Plan ahead. Leave extra time, as your drive may take longer due to the need to drive more slowly in high winds.
- Keep your hands firmly on the wheel. Anticipate the need for steering corrections when traveling from protected to unprotected ares.
- Slow your speed to a safe driving speed and turn on headlights if needed to account for potentially lower visibility created by blowing dust, sand, snow or rain.
- Be aware of and maintain safe distances from other vehicles near you, particularly RVs, campers, trucks, buses, or trailers being towed. These vehicles could swing out and hit your car in sudden wind gusts. High-profile vehicle such as semis are more prone to being pushed or flipped by high winds.
- Keep an eye out for objects that could blow onto the road like tree branches, garbage cans, and other loose items.
- When arriving at your destination, avoid parking near trees, downed power lines and buildings.
In the event of downed power lines:
- Never drive over downed power lines. Even if they have been knocked over by the wind, high-voltage wires may still be alive and very dangerous.
- Avoid anything that may be touching downed lines, including vehicles or tree branches.
- Report downed lines to your local utility emergency center and to the police.