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Dealing with Crosswinds: How to Drive Safely in Windy Conditions

Learn how to drive your RV safely through crosswinds by following the tips and tricks outlined in this blog.

driving rv in crosswinds

Crosswinds are the unseen adversaries of every RV traveler, capable of taking you on an unexpected detour if you're not prepared. Whether you're a seasoned road warrior or a newbie to the world of RV adventures, understanding how to navigate these wind-driven forces is crucial for a safe and enjoyable journey. The impact of gusty winds on a vehicle's stability requires a heightened level of attention and skill, as crosswinds can cause your RV to wobble or sway.


But there’s no need to worry! Navigating through windy conditions, particularly when crosswinds come into play, can be a challenging task for any driver. Lucky for you, we have compiled a guide to cover all bases for you to drive like a pro in windy conditions. So buckle your seatbelts, follow this guide, and enjoy the winds while on the roads without worrying!



Why is it Dangerous to Drive in Windy Conditions?

Driving in windy conditions can transform the serene journey you envisioned into a hair-raising adventure. The invisible force of wind may seem harmless, but it can unleash chaos on the road. First and foremost, strong gusts can push your RV around like a toy, making it a colossal challenge to stay in your lane. You might find yourself engaged in a wrestling match with the steering wheel, trying to maintain control as the wind has its say. This instability is not only nerve-wracking but incredibly dangerous, especially on highways where speeds are higher, and the margin for error is minimal.


But that's not all – the dangers of wind extend beyond just handling your RV. Debris, tree branches, and even smaller vehicles can become airborne projectiles in strong winds, adding a whole new dimension of peril. The sudden appearance of such obstacles can lead to abrupt braking or swerving to avoid them, creating a hazardous situation for you and those sharing the road. So, as we delve deeper into the challenges of tackling crosswinds while driving an RV, remember that the risks go beyond mere inconvenience; they touch on the very essence of road safety.

How Can You Prepare Your RV for Driving in Windy Conditions?

  • Tire Maintenance is Key:

Proper tire maintenance is crucial. Check your RV's tire pressure before each trip and ensure it matches the manufacturer's recommendations. Properly inflated tires with adequate tread can provide better stability in windy conditions. Low tire pressure can make your RV more susceptible to swaying, while overinflated tires can reduce the traction, making it harder to maintain control. Additionally, ensure your tires have sufficient tread depth to maintain traction, especially in wet or slippery conditions.

  • Weight Distribution Matters:

Crosswinds can exert lateral forces on the sides of the RV, so if the weight is unevenly distributed, it can lead to an imbalance. An imbalanced load can compromise the stability of the vehicle and make it more prone to tipping when exposed to crosswinds. Try to evenly distribute the weight of your cargo within the RV. You can refer to your RV's manual or consult with the manufacturer for specific guidance on the proper weight distribution for your model and adjust your cargo to maintain equilibrium.


  • Stabilizing Systems:

Investing in stabilizing systems, like sway bars and steering stabilizers can significantly reduce the effects of crosswinds. Stabilizing systems can provide better control and a smoother ride. They can be essential tools for maintaining control in windy conditions as sway bars minimize side-to-side movement while steering stabilizers assist in keeping the RV on course. But make sure these systems are correctly installed and adjusted to optimize their effectiveness.


  • Check Windshield Wipers:

Windy conditions mean lots of dust and possibly other materials in the air as well. That’s why during windy and rainy conditions, visibility levels may be terrible. Remember to make sure that your windshield wipers are in good condition and working effectively. If not, replace the wipers to ensure a clear view of the road and possible hazards.


  • Stay Informed About Weather:

Keep a close eye on weather reports and road conditions before you hit the road. If you know that strong winds are expected on your route, consider delaying your journey or selecting an alternative route that avoids areas prone to high winds. Staying informed allows you to plan your trip to minimize wind-related challenges. You can also stay on track by downloading a weather app and keeping an eye on conditions while on the road. Check out the best RV weather apps here!


  • Practice Safe Driving Techniques:

While navigating windy roads, it's crucial to prioritize safety. When driving in windy conditions, maintain a firm grip on the steering wheel and be attentive to the road. Always be prepared to make gentle, controlled steering adjustments to counteract the effect of the wind. Also consider carrying road flares to alert others in case of an emergency, which brings us to the question, how long do road flares last? These essential safety tools typically burn for around 15-30 minutes, providing ample time to signal for help if needed.


10 Best Tips for RVing in Windy Conditions

Choose the Right Route:

If you are driving in an area known for its windy weather, make sure to plan your route with wind conditions in mind. If possible, avoid open areas or highways where crosswinds may be more pronounced. You can also consider alternative routes with natural windbreaks or less exposure to gusty winds. Try to check out the best routes to your destination online or on RV apps.


Navigate Traffic Carefully:

Try to give high-profile vehicles, like semis and buses some space. These large vehicles create turbulence in their wake that can affect the stability of your RV. So be sure to maintain a safe following distance to minimize the impact of their wake on your RV. Keep your steering steady and make gentle adjustments to maintain control.


Install Wind Deflectors:

Consider installing wind deflectors or mud flaps to help reduce wind resistance and turbulence. Wind deflectors are accessories installed on the exterior of a vehicle or along the roofline and they can enhance the stability of the RV in windy conditions. Wind deflectors alter the airflow around the vehicle. This can result in reduced air resistance, which may contribute to better fuel efficiency. By minimizing the resistance caused by wind, the vehicle may experience less drag and, consequently, use less energy to maintain speed.


Take Care in Open Areas:

Open areas like highways, bridges, and overpasses are trickier to navigate because there is no obstruction from the wind. Because of this, the wind is often stronger and more erratic. Try to anticipate the direction of the wind and adjust your driving accordingly. Be sure to maintain a firm grip on the wheel to counteract the unpredictable wind patterns, and don’t be afraid to slow down or take a break if needed.


Take Your Time:

On windy days always make plans with extra time reserved for the road. Windy conditions can slow your progress, so when planning your route, allow extra time for your journey. This helps you avoid the need to rush, reducing stress and increasing safety. Even while on the road, don’t overspeed, feel adventurous, or make hasty cuts. Drive cautiously and carefully!


Break When You Need It!

Don’t forget to take frequent breaks. Long drives in windy conditions can be exhausting and regular breaks not only keep you refreshed but also provide opportunities to check the latest weather updates. This way, you can make informed decisions about your route. Of course, you can also make a stop if you would rather avoid the strong winds and wait for them to break instead of driving on.


Beware the Debris:

Wind can also often blow debris onto the road, such as branches, litter, or even fallen signs. That’s why it is important to always stay vigilant and be prepared to adjust your speed or change lanes to avoid these potential hazards.


Park Carefully:

When you reach your destination, choose a parking spot that's away from trees and power lines. Windy conditions can cause branches or power lines to fall, and parking in a clear area reduces the risk of damage to your RV. Even better than a clear area, try to look for parking spots that provide natural windbreaks, such as buildings, hills, or next to other cars. These structures can help reduce the intensity of crosswinds and provide a more sheltered environment for your RV.


Stabilize Your RV with Slideouts:

When the RV is in transit, slideouts are typically retracted, reducing the overall width of the vehicle. This can have a positive impact on the aerodynamics of the RV, potentially making it somewhat stronger against the effects of crosswinds. This reduces the surface area exposed to the wind and helps maintain stability. The retraction of slideouts can also contribute to a slightly lower center of gravity for the RV, which will also have a positive effect when dealing with crosswinds.


Use an RV Awning Shade as a Buffer:

Windy conditions can be relentless, and while you're on the road, an RV awning shade drop can be a game-changer. This versatile accessory not only provides relief from the sun but also shields you from gusty winds, acting as added protection. Just like insulate skylight and RV sunlight covers, these items help maintain a pleasant and temperate interior, making your journey more comfortable. The fabric of the awning shade drop can act as a partial wind buffer. While it may not completely block strong crosswinds, it can help diffuse and reduce the intensity of the wind reaching the area beneath the awning. This can make sitting or lounging under the awning more comfortable during breezy conditions.



When is it Too Windy to Drive an RV?

Determining when it's too windy to drive an RV or when it becomes dangerous is a critical decision for any RV enthusiast. While the precise wind speed at which it becomes unsafe can vary depending on factors like your RV's size and design, a general rule of thumb is that consistent wind speeds above 20-25 miles per hour should raise a red flag.


However, it's not just about the speed; the direction and gustiness of the wind are equally vital. Crosswinds, those that hit the side of your RV, can be particularly treacherous, as they can cause your vehicle to sway and potentially lose control. When you find yourself constantly battling the steering wheel to maintain your lane, it's a clear sign that the wind conditions are unsafe. In such instances, it's better to pull over and wait for the weather to improve.


The decision to drive an RV in windy conditions should also consider local factors. For instance, if you're in an area prone to strong winds, such as deserts or coastal regions, the threshold for safe driving may be lower. Ultimately, it's crucial to prioritize safety and use your best judgment. If you're ever in doubt about whether it's too windy to drive your RV, it's better to err on the side of caution and delay your journey until conditions improve. Your safety and the safety of other road users should always be the top priority.


Conclusion

In the world of RV travel, navigating windy conditions is an art, a skill that seasoned adventurers wield to ensure their journeys remain smooth and safe. With the right knowledge and precautions, you can harness the power of the wind. Just be sure to follow our tips from this guide, make sure your RV is in shape, and be confident on the road. Remember, it is always better to stay safe than sorry! We’ve got faith in you, happy RVing!





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