Safe driving during storms important tips and which vehicles are particularly at risk

Safe driving during storms important tips and which vehicles are particularly at risk

In strong winds and hurricane-force gusts, the car can be shaken up quite a bit.

There it is called: Both hands on the wheel, foot off the gas and gently countersteer.

Those who drive too fast have much less time to react to sudden gusts of wind.

Some vehicles are particularly at risk.

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The wind howls and shakes the car, it shifts to the left, then to the right again. In addition perhaps still rain, which whips against the windows and demands the wipers.

Driving in strong winds requires full attention and adapted speed. Distraction by music or intense conversations? Better not now. Even more than usual: Both hands on the steering wheel. Because a gust suddenly grabs the car, is appropriate gentle countersteering, advises the ADAC.

Who pulls too hard on the steering wheel to steer against the wind, risks accidents. If the airflow breaks off abruptly, you may end up in a ditch or on the oncoming lane, according to Tüv Süd. Steer with feeling. You can react better to even crosswinds than to abrupt gusts from different directions.

Which way the wind is blowing can be seen, among other things, by the slope of trees and bushes along the route. On bridges, air bags often show the direction.

Speed makes the difference

The slower drivers drive, the better they can react. If a gust of wind at 70 km/h hits a car at 100 km/h, it can displace it by one meter. If the car is traveling at 130 km/h, this can rise to four meters, according to Tüv Süd.

The driving tips basically apply to motorcyclists as well. If possible, they should stay in the middle of the lane, so that they have more room to steer on both sides. It is also better to avoid fluttering clothing and, if possible, to adjust it very close to the body, advises the ADAC. Superstructures such as tank bags, suitcases or luggage rolls increase the area of attack.

Where the wind has open attack surfaces, the danger increases – for example on bridges, in forest aisles or at tunnel exits. Overtaking large vehicles such as buses and trucks can also be dangerous if your own car gets out of their slipstream.

Especially prudent with trailer and Co.

Such vehicles, like motor homes and vans, are more sensitive to wind. In the worst case, they could even tip over, according to the ADAC. This also applies to trailers: "If you notice that the trailer is becoming unsteady, you should immediately reduce speed and brake while observing the traffic behind", says Lucà. "This should bring back stability."

When in doubt, look for a safe resting place

"Those who are surprised on the road will, in case of doubt, "stop" at the next safest place possible, says Vincenzo Lucà. Places are to be avoided, where for example danger threatens by falling branches or trees. This also applies to parking. The car is safest in a garage.

Those who don't have their own could park their vehicle in a parking garage for the foreseeable duration of the announced storm. "This costs comparatively little money, but the car is not damaged", says Lucà. Especially if it's a car with emotional value.

With the storm often comes the flood

Sometimes a storm is also accompanied by heavy rain. Then the following applies: anyone arriving at flooded sections or underpasses should stop and drive around them if the depth of the water cannot be estimated precisely. Because if you drive hard through water that is too deep, you could bring spray water into the engine's intake area, which could cause serious damage.

How deep a car can generally drive through water without being damaged is called fording depth. That's a maximum of 20 to 40 centimeters for normal passenger cars and for most SUVs, according to the ADAC. Also then applies to drive always moderately or only at most up to step speed. It's difficult to give a rule of thumb, he said, because the wading depth specifications of manufacturers and models vary too much.

"A good indication of reaching a critical height is when the water reaches below the door sill", says the car club. From this depth of water the vehicle creates a real bow wave, which pushes it in front of itself and spreads out sideways. "This wave formation is visible from the car and should be interpreted as a warning signal."

Be especially careful where mud and debris flow over the road. Here the ground can be so slippery that even a slight current pulls the car from the roadway.

Despite all precautions something broke – who pays for the damage??

If the car has suffered in a storm, this is a case for comprehensive insurance. In addition, according to the German Insurance Association (GDV), partial casco also covers damage such as lightning, fire, hail or flooding.

Some providers define storm indeed only from a certain strength, usually from wind force 8. But in practice, there is hardly any corresponding damage even among them, according to the GDV. Who finds a damage at the car, photographs this best by cell phone.

After the report with the insurance one discusses everything further with this – for instance which workshop takes over the repair. However, those affected must prevent further damage. For example, a broken window must be covered with foil to prevent rain from getting into the car.

Comprehensive insurance extends the benefits of partial casco and covers, among other things, self-inflicted damage, even the wind force no longer plays a role. Depending on the contract and the amount of damage, the comprehensive insurance pays the cost of repair or the new or replacement value. If a deductible is agreed, however, policyholders must always pay it.

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