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Bad weather should not be an excuse for an accident. With a little safety, the potential for one can be minimized. While rain, ice, and snow are frequent contributors to accidents, wind is often overlooked as a hazard.
Buses and other high profile vehicles all have a “sail area”. The sail area is defined as any type of surface that will generate thrust by being placed in wind. The more square footage in the sail area, the more power developed by wind pressure. For example, the side of a bus can be as long as 40 feet and nine feet high, which equates to nearly 400 square feet of sail area.
The number one rule of safety is being aware of the conditions. Whether you get the information from a roadway sign or a weather report, a driver needs to know about wind dangers and be prepared to pull over and stop if that's the safest option.
The larger the sail area, the more likely a problem will arise at high speeds. Slow down or stop in high winds. It isn't just prudent to do so; it's the law. FMSCA regulation § 392.14 states, “If the conditions become sufficiently dangerous, the operation of the commercial vehicle shall be discontinued and shall not be resumed until the commercial motor vehicle can be safely operated.”
#1: Know the size of your sail area.
#2: Get a weather report for your route.
#3: Watch for high-wind warning signs on the roadway.
#4: Watch for wind in the trees, high grass, and other visual signs of wind.
#5: An empty vehicle is even more susceptible to a rollover due to the lack of weight.
#6: If in doubt about the safety, stop the vehicle in a safe place.
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