Vehicle aerodynamic development is normally undertaken in smooth flow wind tunnels. In contrast, the on-road environment is turbulent, with variations in the relative velocity experienced by the moving vehicle caused mainly by the effects of atmospheric turbulence. In this review the turbulence inherent in the atmosphere is considered, following the approach of wind engineers. The variations of atmospheric wind velocity with time, height, terrain and thermal stratification are summarised and discussed. Statistical parameters presented include mean velocity, turbulence intensities, spectra and probability density functions. The resulting fluctuating approach flow (relative velocity) of the moving vehicle is then considered. The effect of the fluctuating velocity field on parameters of interest to vehicle aerodynamicists (such as aerodynamic noise) are made.