IAM warning: It'll be windy

cars and windfarms
As we enter 2012 kicking, screaming and moaning that we have to get up early again but pleased we're not hungover anymore the weather appears to have taken a rather foul turn.

Yup, it's very windy indeed. So windy that the Institute of Advanced Motorists has sent out some advice in case you're not familiar with driving in such strong gusts.

While it may be easy to mock this, there are plenty of people who rarely drive so this is actually rather useful. Also, remember that older cars aren't as heavy as more modern ones and base model superminis tend to weigh the same as a crisp, so crosswinds are an issue.

Here's the IAM's advice:

• Plan your journey – is there a route with less exposure to the weather and less risk of fallen trees? Choose a sheltered route if you have the option.

• Strong winds are not constant, they are usually gusty so ensure you hold the steering wheel firmly.

• Overtaking high sided vehicles or driving past buildings can result in a sudden gust from the side as you clear.

• Give cyclists, motorcyclists, lorries and buses more room than usual. They get blown around by side winds easily.

• Watch trees and bushes on the roadside - their branches show you how strong the wind is. Look well ahead, that way you don't need to take your eye off the road and you can see any windy patches before you get to them.

• Go slow enough to cope with the gusts. Wind can get under a car and reduce its handling and braking significantly.

• Keep an eye on what is happening to other vehicles – where they are affected will give you a pre warning.

• Keep extra distance between you and the car in front.

• Be careful of debris, try and have space beside you in case you need to dodge it.

IAM chief examiner Peter Rodger commented: "I have seen a parked car moved by the wind. Don't underestimate how powerful it is and how it can affect you whilst in the car."

To help motorists not used to driving in adverse conditions, the IAM has launched a new website, drivingadvice.org.uk, which offers hints and tips on driving in all conditions.