Winter Weather Increases Truck Accident Risks
While snow and ice present serious dangers for truckers and other motorists, trucking companies are not required to provide oversight.
Adverse winter weather presents hazards for all motorists, who are encouraged to stay off the roads during periods of heavy snow or ice. For truckers, their ability to make a living depends on them meeting tight deadlines and getting goods and materials where they need to go. While driving during winter snow storms and under icy conditions presents an increased risk of truck accidents that often involve other motor vehicles, there is little federal oversight in terms of making the decision to cancel a trip. Without clear-cut directions from the trucking company, the responsibility for taking the risk of driving in inclement conditions often falls with the truck driver involved.
Weather-Related Truck Accidents
There are multiple contributing factors that lead to car and truck accidents. While reckless driving is often the main cause, issues such as road, traffic, and weather increase crash risks. According to the Federal Highway Administration (FHA), more than 1.2 million of the estimated six million motor vehicle accidents which occur each year list adverse weather conditions as a leading cause of the accident. Of these, more than 25 percent occur during snow and icy road conditions. Impacts experienced by drivers in these conditions include:
- Decreased tire traction
- Increased risk of skidding;
- Poor visibility;
- Difficulty in braking and stopping the vehicle.
While these conditions are dangerous for any driver, truckers are particularly at risk. Semi trucks, tractor trailers, and other big rigs may weigh up to 80,000 pounds or more, making them less able to handle sudden changes and requiring additional space for coming to stops. During snowy weather, skidding on ice or on slick road surfaces could easily cause a trucker to lose control of their rig, impacting oncoming traffic and drivers in the accompanying lanes.
Federal Regulations Regarding Trucks and Adverse Weather
Truck drivers in general are often on tight schedules, allowed minimum break periods, and have quick turnaround times in delivering loads. While snow and icy road conditions make driving more treacherous, many drivers may feel pressured to keep driving in order to meet their quota. Truck drivers and the companies that employ them are subject to both state and federal regulations, but the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) states that the decision on whether or not to make a trip in winter weather conditions rest largely on the driver themselves. These regulations urge drivers in these situations to do the following:
- Use extreme caution;
- Reduce travel speeds;
- Discontinue operations if conditions become sufficiently dangerous.
Contact Us Today for Help
When truck accidents do occur, the trucking company may be held liable if company policies led to drivers taking dangerous risks. If you are involved in this type of accident, reach out and contact Neustrom & Associates. We can arrange a consultation with our experienced Kansas truck accident attorneys in our Salina office to discuss your case and how we can assist you.