Light trailer advisories alert motorists of possible blow over risks

January 11, 2018

When high wind speeds make traveling treacherous, the Wyoming Department of Transportation may issue travel restrictions for vehicles prone to blow overs.

WYDOT will implement a closure to light, high-profile vehicles if an area has wind gusts of 60 mph or greater and if there’s signage to indicate the limited closure.

Vehicles included are moving vans, campers, recreational vehicles, small trailers and empty or lightly-loaded commercial vehicles.

“We put these advisories into effect for public safety,” said Lt. Dave Wagener, of the Wyoming Highway Patrol. “When wind speeds are blowing that high, high profile vehicles and light vehicles including commercial trucks that are towing light and empty trailers can become an extreme hazard.”

This closure helps prevent light, high profile vehicles from blowing over and creating accidents or secondary incidents. When those vehicles get blown over, they can end up in the ditch or the median. However, they can also block a travel lane, causing the road to be closed to all traffic.

WYDOT and WHP don’t have a specific weight that makes travel safe for light, high-profile vehicles when advisories are in place, as it’s difficult to determine at what wind speed and load weights trucks will blow over. Nor is there a statutory definition of what a light, high-profile vehicle is.

As a result, officials ask drivers of those types of vehicles to heed the closures and stay off the road.

If a driver fails to obey the closure, they can be found in violation of state law and subject to a fine of up to $750 and 30 days in jail.

Watch a video from the Wyoming Highway Patrol about the dangers of blow overs and what can happen.

Besides the closure to light, high-profile vehicles, WYDOT has several other advisories it can implement when weather conditions aren’t ideal.

Extreme blow-over risk closure

WYDOT will implement an extreme blow-over risk in area where wind gusts are 60 mph or higher, and where there isn’t adequate signage to indicate a closure to light, high-profile vehicles.

Vehicles included in this closure are moving vans, campers, recreational vehicles, small trailers and empty or lightly-loaded commercial vehicles.

Blow-over risk advisory

WYDOT will post blow-over risk on roadside electronic message boards when wind gusts are greater than 50 mph with any road condition.

This advisory includes trailers of any size (commercial and non-commercial), recreational vehicles, other vehicles loaded with light materials or empty or high-profile vehicles.

Drivers who fail to comply with the blow-over risk advisory and are involved in a crash may be subject to a fine and can expect to pay the cleanup costs and fees.

No unnecessary travel                        

During this advisory, roads are open but travel is not recommended due to hazardous driving conditions.

This advisory is posted during winter months when the roads are extremely icy, visibility is limited due to blowing snow or when a combination of conditions makes travel ill-advised.

Motorists should only travel during “no unnecessary travel” advisories in the most urgent situations. Motorists also should be familiar with local conditions and be experienced with winter driving.

Oversize loads are not allowed to travel if there’s a “no unnecessary travel” advisory in place.