What Is A High Profile Vehicle: Types, Safety, Pros and Cons

What is a high profile vehicle?’ is something you might be wondering if you’ve spent a lot of time driving on the highway. There are a lot of road signs on the highway that indicate these vehicles, but many drivers are confused about what it really means.

High Profile Vehicle ~ Ran When Parked

But it’s important to understand what a top-heavy vehicle is and how to be safe when driving it or when around it. In this guide, we take a closer look at what these vehicles are and other things you need to know.

What Are High-Profile Vehicles?

High-profile vehicles are vehicles with tall and large-surface sidewalls. The top-heavy vehicle is one with a large surface area, and this is often affected by the crosswinds. Some high profile vehicles include box trucks, RVs, semi-trucks, SUVs, tractor-trailers and pickup trucks.

The sidewall of top-heavy vehicles can catch the wind by acting as a sail, and this increases the number of hazards related to the car. When looking at a top-heavy vehicle, you don’t consider the height of the car but how large the surface area is. This allows you to determine whether it is susceptible to wind.

High profile vehicles are chosen based on their weight, center of gravity and wind speed. So, a car like a minivan will not be considered high-profile, but a pickup truck will be. It’s important to take note of all the precautions, whether you’re driving a high-profile car or on the road with one.

What Are The Types of High-Profile Vehicles?

The types of high-profile vehicles include box trucks, SUVs, pickup trucks, school buses, RVs, semi-trucks and tractor-trailers.

Types of High Profile Vehicles ~ Ran When Parked

The common factor among all these vehicles is that they have large surface areas that can be easily caught in crosswinds when driving.

Box Trucks

The box truck has a narrow and tall shape, which increases its surface area. Due to this, the large profile could catch powerful winds and cause the driver to lose control. There are different types of box trucks that come in various sizes. But they are all generally categorized as top-heavy vehicles.

Semi-Trucks and Tractor Trailers

Semi-trucks and tractor-trailers are some of the most susceptible top-heavy vehicles to strong wind. These trailers can go as long as 50 feet long and 9 feet tall. That means that the driver would be handling 450 square feet of surface area on the road, making it hard to stay in control during gusts of wind.

SUVs and Pickups

Although some people don’t consider SUVs and pickup trucks as top-heavy vehicles, they also have a larger surface area on the side than that of smaller cars. In poor weather conditions, these cars would be easily affected.

School Buses

School buses are also top-heavy vehicles, but most people don’t realize this. A full-length school bus can go up to 35 feet long, which means there is a large surface area that can be affected by high winds.

School Buses on Road ~ Ran When Parked

School buses usually stay on safe routes, but there’s no telling when winds will blow hard.


Recreational vehicles are also top-heavy vehicles. These vehicles are unique because you might also attach a trailer or boat to the back, making it longer. These vehicles have a large surface area on the side, and some of them are as long as 38 feet.

How Is A Top Heavy Vehicle Affected By Wind Speed?

A top heavy vehicle can be affected by wind speed because it has a larger surface area on the sides, making it easy for the wind to push it down. Powerful wind can cause the vehicle to lift a bit, reducing the friction between the tires and the pavement.

Wind Speed While Driving ~ Ran When Parked

If top-heavy vehicles are on the road during wind gusts, they can roll over or wobble, and this would cause harm to the driver, passengers and other road users. If you have an SUV or pickup truck, you might not bother about wind speed. But, with a wind speed of 120 mph, your truck can flip over. You can lose control at lower speeds.

As for high-profile commercial vehicles with a large surface area, like box trucks and semi-trailers, they are usually carrying cargo at the back. This makes it easier for the vehicle to be flipped over in winds as fast as 60 mph.

What Wind Speed Is Bad for a High-Profile Vehicle?

The wind speed that is bad for high-profile vehicles is 30 miles per hour, as it would make it difficult to drive. The National Weather Service says that top-heavy vehicles should exercise caution when driving at wind speeds from 30 to 45 mph.

The wind speed affects top-heavy vehicles with the side profile and front surface drag.

Side Profile

Top-heavy vehicles are known for their large side profile, which makes them susceptible to top wind speeds. The wider the side profile, the easier it is for the winds to push a vehicle over. So, if you’re driving a 50-foot-long tractor-trailer, it would more likely get knocked over at top wind speeds than a small recreational vehicle.

Front Surface Drag

Drag, also called resistance, is a force that moves in the opposite direction of an object and tends to slow it down. The force of drag also increases as the object increases its speed. In terms of high-profile cars, their large surface area ends up fighting against drag during high wind speeds.

You can check drag by putting your arm out of the window of a moving car. You would see that your hand would be pushed back by the wind. That’s the same way your car is pushing against the wind.

In normal winds, there is nothing wrong with drag. But, vehicles with a large front surface, like box trucks and tractor-trailers, create a lot of drag in wind gusts.

How Can You Stay Safe When Driving a High-Profile Vehicle?

You can stay safe when driving high-profile vehicles by keeping both hands on the wheel and maintaining full control of the vehicle, keeping space between you and other vehicles, checking your route in advance and checking the weather for the day.

Stay Safe When Driving ~ Ran When Parked

High winds should not be overlooked when driving a top-heavy vehicle because they can pose a safety hazard to all the cars on the road. It’s important to keep both hands on the wheel when driving, and if there are high winds, don’t try to make sudden movements. If you are losing control, find a safe place to pull over.

It’s good to be overly cautious when driving a massive vehicle. Drive slowly and ensure there is plenty of space between you and the other cars so that no one is caught in your blind spot. Keep your eye out for any cars too close to you so that you can properly control the car if there is a strong wind gust.

Aside from top-heavy vehicle drivers, other drivers on the road should focus on safety, too. Stay away from the no-zones of the truck, which are directly in front, behind or at the sides of them. Also, put enough space between you and the high-profile trucks for safe driving.

Are Top Heavy Vehicles A Rollover Risk?

Top heavy vehicles are a rollover risk because they have a higher center of gravity than other cars. You can also find a sticker inside the vehicle that warns of rollover risk, located in the cabin and usually on the sun visor.

You can check if your car has the rollover risk sticker, but it’s important to note that top-heavy vehicles are usually prone to rolling over, especially during powerful winds. Some manufacturers don’t include the sticker or provide adequate warning, so if you’re driving a pickup or SUV, you should keep this risk in mind.

What Are The Pros of Driving Top-Heavy Vehicles?

The pros of driving top-heavy vehicles include the higher ground clearance, which means that drivers won’t come in contact with the floor when there are high bumps, or it’s covered with snow. Top-heavy vehicles also provide extra traction and stability when driving in slippery conditions, with the four-wheel drive.

Pros of Heavy Vehicles ~ Ran When Parked

Also, top-heavy vehicles come with a higher seating position, so drivers can easily see the road ahead and spot potential hazards before getting there. The large size and weight of the vehicles make it easier to push them through deep snow and standing water.

What Are The Cons of Driving Top-Heavy Vehicles?

The cons of driving top-heavy vehicles are the front wind drag and side profile. These large vehicles are highly affected by tough weather conditions, especially crosswinds. They also have high rollover risks, especially during poor weather. It’s important to keep an eye on wind conditions when driving these vehicles.

Also, top-heavy vehicles are more expensive than normal cars, which is why they are mostly used for commercial purposes. They are also targets for thieves that steal car parts and vandals. Although top-heavy vehicles have a high seating position, they have a lot of blind spots. This makes it harder to check other cars around the vehicle.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are Top Heavy Vehicles?

Top heavy vehicles are vehicles that are taller and narrower than the standard car. These cars have a higher center of gravity, and their top is heavier, making it easier to flip over during a rollover accident. They are also high profile vehicles.

Are SUVs and Jeeps More Dangerous Than Other Cars?

SUVs and Jeeps are more dangerous than other cars because they are more prone to rollover accidents and are more dangerous in collisions.

SUVs on Road ~ Ran When Parked

This is because they have a higher center of gravity and are larger and heavier than your sedan or coupe.

What Should I Do If I’m Driving A High Profile Vehicle in High Wind Warnings?

If you are driving a high profile vehicle in high wind warnings, you should pull over at the safest place, stop and turn off the lights. Make sure that you are away from tall objects like trees that could fall on the vehicle, and turn on the hazard lights. Then, wait for the wind to subside.

When Is It Too Windy To Drive?

It is too windy to drive when you have sustained winds of 30 miles per hour for an hour or frequent gusts of wind at 45 miles per hour, occurring for the next 36 hours. It would make it difficult to drive bigger and top-heavy vehicles with these speeds.


Learning the answer to ‘What is a high profile vehicle?’ is important, as you can see if your vehicle is under this category and how to stay safe.

Here’s a rundown of our guide:

  • These are vehicles that are very tall and have a large surface area, making them susceptible to crosswinds.
  • The types include pickup trucks, SUVs, RVs, box trucks, semi-trailers, tractor-trailers, and school buses.
  • A top-heavy vehicle is affected by strong winds because it has a large surface area on the sides.
  • The side profile of the truck can be easily pushed down during strong winds, while the front surface experiences drag against the wind.
  • You can stay safe while driving a high-profile truck by keeping both hands on the wheel and keeping your distance from other cars.

If you own a top-heavy vehicle, it’s best to stay safe when driving and ensure there is enough distance between you and other cars. Also, follow all the road signs when driving.


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