High Winds Make Truck Driving Treacherous - News and Weather For The Quad Cities -

High Winds Make Truck Driving Treacherous

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Strong winds make it very difficult out on the roads for big rig drivers.

Trying to keep a 53 foot wind catcher steady on the roads.

Monday's wind blew this shipping container off a flatbed truck.

It happened in the westbound lane of Interstate 280 near Locust Street.

Winds in the Quad Cities were clocked up to 46 miles per hour.

Training schools teach their students to handle the weather as best they can.

Professional drivers pay close attention to every type of weather they're going to be driving through on their trip.

Rain, snow, and ice present their own problems, but wind is tricky.

A steady breeze is easier for drivers to compensate for, but it's the big gusts that can turn a routine trip into a mess on the roads.

"The wind like today makes a big difference cause it can blow you right over, if its too strong," says truck driving instructor Jessica Stahl.

She has been hauling loads in trucks for 13 years. She's seen all kinds of weather and says learning how to handle situations like high winds with an experienced driver is a good thing for students.

"They get to experience it while having a trainer with it so they don't have to be on their own when they're learning it."

An experience that's clear up in the cab, rocking and rolling as we cross the Rock River.

"The only thing I can do is just turn into it and hold it," says Stahl.

Wide open spaces, bridges, and tunnel exits make it difficult for a semi driver to maintain control. These are places where the wind speed can vary.

"With the wind you just never know, it could gust up at anytime and take you out, there's nothing you can do."

Dangerous enough for a semi-driver, potentially catastrophic for a passing motorist paying little attention.

"A lot of people like to hang right next to the trailer to have them block the wind and that's the most dangerous place to be because if the trailer goes you're going to get squished."

Stahl says high winds can be eased with a heavy load on a trailer. Driving slower also helps, and she looks for clues about the wind. Flags, car exhaust, even trees can be helpful.

"The tree's don't move real easily so when they start blowing you know the wind is really strong," says Stahl.

High winds affect drivers with all kinds of larger vehicles.

RV drivers, U-Haul truck renters, anything with a large profile can be pushed around.

The best advice is to stop driving, but slowing down and keeping your distance from other large vehicles are also helpful tips.

National Weather Service data shows 76 people were killed by wind in 2011.

21 of those people were in a vehicle at the time.

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