Storm Henry brings serious difficulties for drivers

Drivers must not ignore warnings about Storm Henry, particularly in the North of England, Scotland and North Wales, says the AA.

Fallen trees - just one of the dangers facing drivers on the roads in high winds
Fallen trees - just one of the dangers facing drivers on the roads in high winds

Max Holdstock, the AA’s Patrol of the Year, said that high winds present significant hazards for drivers.

“Wind in the UK rarely blows steadily – and with Storm Henry, gusts of 90mph can be expected in some places..

“You can easily be blown off course especially on exposed roads; when crossing bridges, passing gaps in hedges or buildings or emerging from a cutting.”

An AA-Populus study found that 1 in 10 lack confidence when driving in strong winds.

The study also found that just over half of drivers (53%) said they were ‘very confident’ driving in strong wind.

But, Max Holdstock points out, gusty winds can catch out even the most experienced drivers.

“In country areas, there is a high risk of trees and branches being blown into your path while in urban streets, high winds will pick up anything not properly fixed – such as fence panels, wheelie-bins, trampolines or even garden sheds.

“And you should give a particularly wide berth around cyclists or motor-cyclists.”

The AA says that drivers should keep their speed down and keep both hands firmly on the wheel especially if their vehicle is being buffeted by gusts or is in the slipstream of other vehicles. Max Holdstock says: “The faster you are driving, the longer it takes to get your vehicle under control again if you have been blown off-course by a sudden gust.”

Heavy rain is also often associated with high winds and drivers should beware of flooded roads. He adds that if you break down on a motorway or busy road, it’s possible other vehicles, especially high sided vehicles and trailers, might veer into your car if they are blown off course so it’s best to get away to a safe location, ideally behind a crash barrier if there is one, well away from your car.

“It is dangerous to drive in the most severe conditions,” Max Holdstock says. “But if you must, be prepared. Plan your journey and allow extra time, keeping an ear out for local radio traffic reports. Download the AA App which provides live AA RoadWatch traffic reports from Inrix. And take warm and waterproof clothing and a fully-charged mobile phone, as well as, high-energy snacks such as chocolate and drinking water.

“Bear in mind it could take some time for you to be rescued especially if the road has been closed by fallen trees, flood water or a collision.”