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What Is a High Profile Vehicle? (Explained)

Updated: Jan 13

Many people have reported seeing signs along fast and open roads like motorways and freeways advising "high profile vehicles" of strong winds during bad weather. But what exactly qualifies as a high profile vehicle?

In this article, we will discuss what a high profile vehicle is, why they're more at risk to strong winds, and how to drive them safely in harsh weather.

Table of Contents:

What Is a High Profile Vehicle?

Any vehicle with high-sides, lots of surface area, and that is big is typically considered high-profile, in this context a high profile vehicle does not mean it is expensive or flashy like a supercar.

A high profile vehicle is one with large surface areas, such as trucks, RVs, SUVs, pickup trucks, and other large and tall vehicles. They are typically more vulnerable to wind gusts and may put them at risk of toppling over.

The risk to high profile vehicles depends on the following factors.

  • Their centre of gravity

  • Their surface area

  • How tall they are

  • How narrow or wide they are

  • Wind speeds

High-profile vehicles must take special measures, such as slowing down or stopping somewhere built up.

There may be regulations (depending on country) governing whether or not a high-profile vehicle may be allowed to drive during bad weather.

What Is Considered a High Profile Vehicle?

Many vehicles are considered to be large and susceptible to high wind gusts, such as the following.

  • Trucks, semi-trucks and box trucks (lorries)

  • SUVs, pickup trucks and vans

  • RVs and campers

  • Trailers

a white truck driving on a road

Trucks, Semi-Trucks & Box Trucks (Lorries)

Most trucks are considered high profile trucks, they have high sides and a large surface area.

Due to their dimensions and large side surface area, trucks continue to have a high relative risk of being affected by strong gusts of wind.

The majority of semis tow trailers with a surface area of around 450 square feet that are typically more than 50 feet long and 9 feet high. If a strong gust of wind hits this it will have a very powerful sideways force on the vehicle.

The semi-truck is perhaps the most vulnerable to wind gusts; some have even been known to topple over on fast open roads (it doesn't happen often, but it occurs).

a black SUV in a showroom

SUVs, Pickup Trucks & Vans

Although SUVs, pickup trucks, and vans don't have the same amount of surface area large trucks have, they are still tall and have a lot of surface area, making them more vulnerable to wind gusts than most other vehicles.

It's very rare for an SUV, pickup truck, or van to topple over but they do have a higher centre of gravity and more surface area than most other cars and strong winds can easily cause them to sway to one side and move over the road.

an RV in a snowy area with two people looking ahead

RVs & Campers

An RV (camper) is basically a large box on wheels, they have lots of surface area, they are tall and they are also lighter than most other trucks. RVs are also at high risk of swaying, being pushed sideways, and potentially toppling over in high winds.

RVs and campers are considered light high profile vehicles.