Parts of the Coachella Valley were under a red flag advisory for strong winds on Monday. The California Highway Patrol said it is important to understand that strong winds can be dangerous when you get behind the wheel.
Officer Mike Radford with the Indio CHP office said he has seen how strong winds affect drivers. "There was a chain reaction of crashes just due to heavy winds and blowing sand," Radford recalled of a windy day in the Coachella Valley. Radford advises drivers to drive with two hands on the wheel in windy areas. "We do have vehicles that roll over in the high winds. Those are usually high profile vehicles especially when they are empty," Radford explained.
Radford also suggests avoiding driving next to other vehicles. "Either stay ahead of or behind vehicles just in case you or that vehicle ends up getting pushed around," he said.
The strong wings can also create a fire hazard when driving. "We’ve had many fires started by vehicle malfunctions throughout the different counties," said Mecca fire Captain Fernando Herrera. He said when a malfunction happens, pulling over could catch dry brush on fire. "The tendency is to pull over to the shoulder of the road, then that can start a fire along the shoulder of the road also," Herrera explained. He said if possible, pull over in an area without vegetation or on an off ramp.
Radford said smoking while driving in high winds is also a fire hazard. "Cigarettes also cause a lot of fire. People don’t think of that. If you flick a cigarette, it’s still a lit substance and that can catch fire in a heavy wind and spread quickly."