Driver Knowledge Tests

Vehicle safety in high winds: curtainside trucks

Strong winds can easily blow your truck over. In fact, a 100km/h gust can put as much as 30 tonnes of pressure on the side of a semitrailer. If you’re running empty or carrying a light load like cornflakes, your truck is at risk of being tipped on its side by the wind.

During high winds, it’s recommended that you avoid driving on exposed plains, across structures such as bridges and where the wind is naturally funnelled into a point.

Drivers of curtainside vehicles can easily reduce their risk of a blow over by tying their curtains back, however, drivers should not ignore advice given by police or highways agencies not to travel; if you’re in any doubt, park up the truck and wait for the winds to die down.

How to reduce the side profile of your truck and/or trailer

Open the curtain on the lee side of the truck (the side not in the wind) from the front and slide it all the way to the back. Note that you should absolutely not do this in strong wind as it could be too strong for you to hold the curtain safely, plus the curtain could flap around with buckles swinging, risking injuring you.

Repeat on the side exposed to the wind. Keep a firm hold of the curtain poles to reduce the risk of them flapping uncontrollably and hitting you.

Use a ratchet strop tie the curtains to the rear door, making sure that you are not covering your lights, reflectors or number plate. The curtains should be all the way back, neatly folded.

Throw two strops over the top of the trailer, dividing the trailer into three roughly even parts and secure them on the rails. This stops the wind’s pressure on the rear door flexing the top rails which could dislodge any side rails.

Fold the curtains as evenly as you can (it might not be easy) and tighten the strop so they don’t move around; take care not to damage them
In this case, the strop has been fed through anchor points on the rear door
Tighten the strop. In this case, the strop is near the pole supporting the roof. If you overtighten a strop between two poles, you could bend the roof rails.

Darren is an expert on driving and transport, and is a member of the Institute of Advanced Motorists

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