What wind speed can flip a semi? (17 tips for truckers)

In this blog post, we will answer the following question: What wind speed can flip a semi? We will discuss the challenges of driving a semi in high winds and how you can keep driving safe no matter the weather. 

What wind speed can flip a semi?

Wind speed near 60 mph can flip a semi.  Driving in moderate to strong wind conditions can be very dangerous. Even more so when it comes to bulky vehicles such as trucks, as they are more sensitive to crosswinds due to their size and shape.

The effects of the wind on a vehicle depend not only on the force of the first but above all on its trajectory and how it affects the vehicle since if the wind is lateral it can modify the trajectory of the vehicle; if it comes from the front it slows it down and if it blows from behind it accelerates it. 

In addition, the wind is an unpredictable climatic condition since, unlike rain, snow or ice, there are no warnings of its presence before it and its intensity can vary randomly, thus becoming one of the most dangerous conditions. because of the unpredictability of the situation.

The important thing on board any vehicle in windy cases, and much more important when we are driving a truck, is to maintain firm control of the truck at all times, with our hands holding the steering wheel and at a reduced speed that allows us to increase our margin of reaction to any unforeseen event.

There are a series of guidelines to take into account when facing a situation of strong winds on the road with a semi-truck. These are some of the most important points:

  1. Pay attention. In some situations with strong gusts, the wind can blow leaves, branches or heavier objects that can hit the vehicle or obstruct the road. Increasing caution is vital.
  1. Drive firmly. Hold the steering wheel firmly with both hands to avoid sudden changes in direction and scares from occasional gusts of wind. Remember to keep the windows closed to improve aerodynamics and avoid distractions or objects blown by the wind.
  1. The reaction time matters. Trucks act as a screen due to their height and poor lateral aerodynamics, as they are designed to cut through the air head-on. This means that the effects of the wind can be devastating. 

To alleviate this, it is advisable to increase the safety distance with the rest of the vehicles and also with the sides of the road, allowing the reaction distance to a sudden change of direction to be sufficient to avoid leaving the road or colliding with the fences sides.

  1.  Lower the speed. In gusts of strong winds, the push they make on the vehicle can cause the sensation of lack of traction or grip on the vehicle. It is essential to avoid this danger that we reduce speed and even gear, since the power offered by high revolutions will allow us to have greater control over the vehicle. 

Another point to keep in mind when we face situations of strong winds is to avoid overtaking since the screen effect of the truck added to the wind can lead to a dangerous situation.

  1. Check the condition of the tires and that of the brakes periodically. As we have mentioned before, strong wind usually causes a lack of traction, so keeping our tires in optimal condition, checking them and changing them when appropriate will save us scares and allow us to mitigate the effects of the wind in these circumstances. 

As for the brakes, we recommend checking them periodically and drying the moisture from the pads if necessary.

  1. Use low gears: This way you will be able to raise the engine revolution and have reserve power to face strong gusts of wind.
  1. Increase the safety distance: Leave more space between your vehicle and those around you to avoid any unforeseen event or a swing caused by the effect of the wind.
  1. Drive in the centre lane: Only if you consider it necessary can you drive in the centre lane to avoid unexpected gusts of wind that could send you to the ditch or the opposite lane.
  1. Take extreme precautions and slow down. In the city, expect that plastic bags and other objects will roll down the road (especially dangerous are uncontrolled garbage containers).
  2. On the road, be careful with possible landslides and pay special attention to the opposite lane so as not to invade it.
  1. Avoid driving behind cars with light trailers or glued to loaded trucks.
  1. Use a high engine rev range to more easily maintain the trajectory of your vehicle.
  1. Hold the steering wheel tightly and perform movements that are smooth and progressive. In case of need, you can reduce the wind thrust by making a slight counter-steering wheel.
  1. Drive in the center of your lane: if you suffer a side wind blow, just a few centimeters can be the difference between the road and the ditch.
  1. Extreme caution when overtaking, especially if the other vehicle is large (truck, bus, etc.), since the blow of air that occurs is greater, which is known as the “screen effect”.
  1. Be very careful when leaving tunnels and highly protected areas, since the incidence of the wind once overcome will be greater.
  1. Always control the direction the wind blows and its intensity. The trees and vegetation at the edge of the road are of great help. Bear in mind that the influence of the wind on the truck depends not only on its size but also on factors such as the centre of gravity, the load and its distribution in the passenger compartment.

With these tips, you can reduce the danger posed by strong winds when driving any vehicle, but especially a truck. It is important to remain calm at all times and always maintain firm control of the truck and the situation, the precautions that are taken when it is our health that may be at stake never hurt.

How wind speed affects your Semi

When the wind blows strongly, or as soon as we notice the first lurching in the vehicle due to gusts, slowing down is the best antidote to the problems caused by the wind since the changes of direction will be less critical, the rolling more controllable and the vehicle will be prevented from losing grip. 

When an unexpected vehicle shake or sway is noticed, if we look for trees along the road with our eyes, we will be able to detect earlier if we have entered an area of ​​strong wind, either in a mountain pass or in flat areas.

The gusts of wind are noticeable especially in the direction, with slight changes of direction that must be corrected with the steering wheel to maintain the trajectory within the lane. 

If we have reduced the speed, these changes of direction will be small and just by grasping the steering wheel with a certain firmness and being attentive with our eyes to where we want to take the vehicle, we will be able to face the gusts of wind without scars.

Our recommendation is to exercise extreme caution when driving semi-trucks in strong winds, as they are more likely to be affected by gusts. They can destabilize and exacerbate trajectory problems in the pulling vehicle. If the trailer is large and light, such as a trailer, it is even advisable to cancel the trip and wait for the wind to subside. 

The more body surface the vehicle has, the more the effect of the wind will be noticeable, so you have to be more careful with large vehicles, especially such as a large and old SUV, a van or a truck. It will be even more noticeable if one of these vehicles is lightly loaded.

The bottom line

Strong winds can be a hazard to driving, and it doesn’t matter whether you drive a large aero vehicle or a small vehicle: strong winds can be a problem for anyone on the road. 

Drive slower. Not only do you have less control over a vehicle the faster it moves, but you also have less time to react. Sudden gusts of wind can cause problems that no one can anticipate, and if you go slower you are more likely to avoid them.

Please feel free to get in contact should you have any questions or comments on the content. 

FAQ on What wind speed can flip a semi?

Are 40mph winds dangerous?

40 mph is not considered very dangerous winds, however, you must be careful while driving, because it can be strong enough to break trees, to damage power lines and small structures.

Can a camper be blown over in the wind?

Yes, a camper can be blown over in high winds. If necessary, better stop and wait for the wind to subside or in any case, change direction or its strength to be able to drive better.

Can you tow a camper in 40mph winds?

The short answer is yes; you can tow a camper in 40mph winds. The general rule is to avoid towing a caravan/trailer in winds that exceed 50mph, as it can pose a real danger for yourself and other drivers.  

Can wind tip over a travel trailer?

Yes, wind as low as 10mph could tip over a travel trailer. It is recommended to avoid towing a travel trailer in winds that exceed 50mph, as it can pose a real danger for yourself and other drivers. But as long as you are prepared, you can safely tow your travel trailer.   

How to drive with a lot of wind?

Here are some safe driving tips for windy conditions:

  • Determine the direction of the wind.
  • Check the tires. 
  • Know your vehicle well. 
  • Keep your hands behind the wheel. 
  • Reduce speed.
  • Drive in the middle of the lane.
  • Avoid overtaking.

References