When bad weather descends upon us – which is all too common here in the UK – the best advice would be to stay put and not attempt to drive your campervan. But sometimes you’re left with little choice but to get behind the wheel amid bad weather and high winds.
Perhaps the heavens open as you’re driving or you’ve got to be somewhere and can’t avoid braving the elements. It’s crucial that you’re prepared for those moments and know how to adapt your driving to reduce the risk of having an accident.
In this article, we’ll provide you with all the advice you need to help you stay safe no matter what the weather – and prevent you from having to make a claim on your insurance for a campervan.
So, let’s get down to it, starting with what you need to do before you turn the ignition…
Plan your journey
Before every trip, it’s good practice to check the weather forecast for the day and weigh up the likelihood of coming into contact with torrential conditions.
Look at your planned route and align that with the weather map.
If it looks like you’re on a collision course with bad weather, is there an alternative route that you can take to avoid the high winds, heavy rain or whatever it is that will make the conditions hazardous?
If you’re wondering whether it’s really necessary to change your route for weather reasons, consider what it’s like driving in high winds while you’re in a car – when you're in your campervan it becomes a lot more dangerous.
You are more likely to feel the effect of the wind in your campervan during a storm and therefore may struggle to control your vehicle.
Remember, safety first, always.
Pack some provisions
If you have made the call to press on despite the weather, then the least you should do is make sure that you have everything you need should you have to make an emergency stop or, worse, break down.
Here are some suggestions for things to pack:
- Winter breakdown safety kit (including foil blanket and hi-vis vest)
- Food and drink
- Spare clothes
- Mobile phone
- Torch (including spare batteries)
- Ice scraper and de-icer
- Boots with good grip
- First aid kit
- Jump start cables
There’s a good chance that you’ll be taking most of these items anyway – but ensure that nothing gets left behind which could make a real difference in an emergency situation.
Hopefully you’ll never have to use any of it, but you can’t be too careful. Prepare correctly for the winter months through using our useful guide to help you stay safe on the road.
Reduce your speed
Should you find yourself driving through the eye of a storm, the first thing you need to do is reduce your speed.
Most drivers would do this instinctively anyway – but don’t let other drivers pressurise you into driving faster than you feel is safe.
If any driver starts to tailgate you, just ignore them or slow down further to allow them to pass safely. Whatever you do, don’t engage them as this will take away from your concentration on the road ahead.
Reducing your speed will give you more to react to the adverse conditions – be it ice, high winds or a rainfall – which can also affect your visibility. Do you have ambitions to take your motorhome on a winter ski holiday? Then look no further than our guide to make that possible.
Be wary of aquaplaning
The thought of aquaplaning is most drivers’ worst nightmare. When a vehicle aquaplanes, the tyres cannot grip on the road and this causes a lack of traction which means the driver loses control and is unable to steer, brake or accelerate.
When a campervan aquaplanes, it can be a frightening experience and can cause an accident.
Aquaplaning becomes a possibility when heavy rainfall builds up on a road’s surface – the water needs to be at least 2.5mm (or 1/10 of an inch) deep.
Aquaplaning is more likely when tyres are in a poor condition and a vehicle is travelling at speed.
How do you know when your campervan is aquaplaning?
- Engine suddenly becomes louder
- Steering becomes ‘light’
- Rear end of the car drifts from side to side – known as ‘fishtailing’
What should you do if you start to aquaplane?
- Don't apply the brakes initially
- Slowly ease off the accelerator
- Keep the steering wheel straight
- As you regain control of the vehicle, gently apply the brakes to bring your speed down
Anticipate gusts of wind
When driving in high winds, you need to be ready for the sudden gusts, which can make you veer off the driving line if you’re not careful.
Keep both hands on the wheel – maintaining a firm grip – so that should you experience a gust that throws your campervan off course, you can quickly straighten it up.
You’re more likely to experience strong gusts of wind on exposed stretches of roads or when passing high-sided vehicles. You might also notice a sudden gust when passing tall buildings in urban areas.
Again, reduce your speed and leave extra room when passing cyclists and motorcyclists who are particularly vulnerable to sudden gusts and may be blown into your path.
Keep your distance from other vehicles, especially other high-sided vehicles and caravans, and keep your eyes peeled for foreign objects in the road such as fallen branches.
Finally, avoid bridges where possible, which can prove particularly dangerous for larger vehicles during high winds. Prepare yourself and your motorhome with our top tips guide to help make your adventure as successful as possible.
Park away from trees
Once your journey is complete and you’ve arrived in one piece, you still need to be aware of any threats caused by the bad weather.
Campsites are often surrounded by trees – but you might want to spend the night as far away from trees as possible; at least until the wind has died down a bit. Looking for a new camp site? Check out our blog for help and advice for picking the right one for you.
Protect yourself with campervan insurance
Before you head out into the wilderness, don’t forget to arrange that all-important piece of the puzzle: campervan insurance.
Getting the right kind of coverage means you can get on with all your travel adventures knowing you're protected in the case of the unexpected.
We can provide a range of quotes on specialist campervan insurance that could provide the following possible benefits:
- Cover for up to 365 days a year which can include foreign use
- Cover for your camper while you are converting it
- Enhanced cover for personal effects
- Panel of leading Campervan insurers
- Unlimited EU cover
- Up to £3,500 of cover for your camping personal effects
- Up to six months cover to complete a self-build conversion
- Value up to £150,000
Policy benefits and features offered may very between insurance schemes or cover selected and are subject to underwriting criteria. Information contained within this article is accurate at the time of publishing but may be subject to change.