Is it Safe to Drive in 50 mph Winds?

12th December, 2022, in Travel Advice & Guides

Driving when it’s a clear, sunny day is usually the preference for most drivers. When the weather turns a little wet and windy, however, there are some drivers who doubt whether the journey is either necessary or safe.

Some drivers feel that their ability is good enough to handle any type of weather, but nature has a way of surprising drivers without even a second’s notice.

It has often been cited that winds from 30 mph+ can put drivers at risk, although applying certain driving techniques and planning ahead can make it possible and safe.

Furthermore, winds that hit 50 mph or more are classed as damaging. The correct application to your driving can still make it safe, albeit a little challenging.

Ultimately, you can drive in 50 mph winds, but the risks could make it a little more dangerous than you had hoped.

How to drive safely in strong winds

Strong winds can take you by surprise. Open roads, passing bridges, being by the seafront or even a gap in a hedge can all see a sudden gust hit you out of nowhere before the wind settles down again. In some cases, it doesn’t settle at all and for the duration of the journey, you are fighting the elements as you try and get from A to B.

One piece of advice everyone can be on side with is that if you have any doubts or concerns about the journey, then don’t make it. If the journey is essential and you feel confident enough in your driving ability, then following a few tips will make it easier. In addition, if on holiday, holiday car excess insurance can make sure that should Mother Nature lead to any potential problems, you can remain covered against excessive costs to get back on the road.

So, how can you make the journey safer and easier?

Pack well

With any strong winds there are the risks of blocked roads, be it through fallen trees or flooded routes. This means your journey time can be severely compromised. Kit your car out with spare blankets, a first aid kit, food and drink, and a fully charged phone as well as some warm clothes. Just don’t store them in a roof box as the heightened winds will affect your stability with a box attached to the roof.

Check the news and traffic reports

You could be putting yourself at risk taking certain routes, so regularly check the news and weather to find out about road closures or any severe disruptions. This could help you decide if your journey is truly worthwhile.

Plan your amended route

With the high winds causing havoc, certain roads may be more susceptible to even stronger gusts or more consistent wind speeds. By researching alternative routes, you can minimise the time you may encounter them and possibly find a route that helps you evade riskier areas.

Drive slowly

Some may think that the wind will push you on and help you get somewhere faster. In fact, you put yourself and others at significant risk if you try to put your foot down. High-speed winds will get under your car and as a result, reduce both your handling and the ability to brake. By driving at a more controlled speed, you can anticipate wind speed better and reduce the risk of accidents.

Be aware of other drivers

You may want to overtake, especially if significantly slower vehicles are ahead of you. This can be problematic as trucks (and other vehicles that have higher sides) will mean you are hit by a sudden gust as you pass them. This can reduce the stability of the vehicle and makes handling more difficult. When opportunities to pass arise, make sure it is safe and that no other hazards are oncoming.

Prepare for changes

High winds can bring about sudden weather changes. Torrential rain is not uncommon when wind speeds are high. This means reduced visibility is very likely. To avoid this being a dangerous situation, check lights, tyres and windscreen wipers before you set off.

Always hold the steering wheel with both hands

Strong winds can catch you by surprise. They are rarely consistent, meaning that you can be feeling comfortable behind the wheel one moment and fighting the elements the next. Just don’t grip it too tightly as you could restrict movement. Instead, hold firm to give you the best possible control.

Look ahead and keep a safe distance

The strong winds could lead to falling cables, tree branches and other obstacles, leading you to have to take evasive action. This sometimes means that you could swap lanes or find yourself closer to other traffic. Always keep more distance between yourself and other vehicles. They will likely see things before you when ahead of you, and therefore may stop suddenly or have to slow dramatically.

Be aware of side winds and headwinds

When side winds hit strong speeds, your car could skit laterally. This will no doubt make you panic and fight with your car to keep it facing the right way. Instincts can lead some drivers to steer into the direction the wind has taken them. Instead, steer slowly and gently in the opposite direction to help correct it.

When a headwind or tailwind hits you, you could find your speed being compromised. You may feel yourself being pushed forward or pulled back a little. Adjust your speed to compensate for this.


No matter the speed of the wind, you should always be prepared for changes. 50 mph winds can be hard to drive in and do pose risk, however following the above should make it a little easier for you to complete your journey. Once you have reached your destination, just be aware the winds may still be strong and could get stronger. Therefore, do not park under trees, phone lines or near anything that could be at risk of collapse due to the wind.

If you are driving on holiday, you may not be fully accustomed to the changing climate. As a result, you should make sure that you are fully prepared to accept quick changes. Speak to our team at Direct Car Hire Excess – we can make sure that your time abroad is less stressful and ultimately less expensive. Excess car hire insurance means that should there be any issues, due to weather or other causes, you are protected. Our policies start from as little as £0.12 / €0.14 / $0.16 per day. Contact our team today and get yourself a free quote.

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