It’s hard enough to drive a truck during perfect weather conditions. When heavy rain or snow hit, or fierce winds start to blow, maintaining control of an 80,000 pound machine gets even more difficult. Just one mistake can result in disaster – and since more companies are having to hire inexperienced drivers, the risks get exponentially higher. But the chances of weather related truck accidents increase even more when trucking companies hire drivers unfit to be behind the wheel. Or if a driver chooses to operate a rig while impaired due to drug or alcohol use.
If you’ve been hurt in a trucking accident that occurred during severe weather, and negligence on the part of the driver, the trucking company or some other party caused the accident, you need to get legal help as fast as you can. Penn Kestner & McEwen can provide that help. Contact us online or call (800) 732-3070 for a free consultation.
The Dangers of Driving in Severe Weather
Just about everyone has had to drive in really bad weather at one time or another. It could have been a severe storm that seemed to come out of nowhere, or a blinding blizzard. Whatever the case, driving in inclement weather is obviously scary, as well as dangerous.
It’s even more dangerous when you have to share the road with a semi-truck. Anything can happen, and motorists sometimes can’t avoid disaster. When this happens, they may be able to pursue compensation for any injuries they suffer.
Bad Weather Can Affect Even the Best Semi-Truck Drivers
Even a familiar route can become a possibly life-threatening ordeal, even for veteran truck drivers with years of experience. It doesn’t matter how much experience they may have, or how prepared they are (or think they are) for hazardous road conditions. An accident involving a big rig can easily occur, and the results can be catastrophic.
Are There Regulations in Place for Driving in Severe Rain?
There are several federal regulations that drivers must follow at all times – and these regulations include driving in heavy rain or other types of severe weather.
For example, Article § 392.14 of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR) states that commercial truck drivers must always use extreme caution in the event of hazardous conditions. These include rain, snow, ice, sleet, fog, and any other condition that could affect a truck’s traction, or a driver’s visibility.
Drivers Must Reduce Their Speed
Drivers are expected to slow down significantly during severe weather, such as a blinding rainstorm. They should at least reduce their speed by a third, because it takes longer for a huge truck to come to a stop on a wet road. When drivers go too fast in these conditions, they can easily start to skid, or lose control completely. This will especially be the case if their tires and brakes haven’t been properly inspected before a trip.
Drivers Must Use Sound Judgment and Drive Defensively
According to the FMCSR, a driver must pull over in the safest manner possible if conditions become “sufficiently dangerous.” They cannot resume operations until they are sure they can do so safely.
Drivers Must be Prepared to Stop
All drivers have to be ready for anything when the weather turns bad while they’re on the road. But this is especially true for truck drivers. They have to give other vehicles plenty of room. If they do need to stop, they need to take their foot off of the accelerator and lightly apply the brake. Otherwise, they could hydroplane and lose total control.
Severe Weather Statistics for Truck Drivers
Trucking is an incredibly high-stakes industry, and severe weather can cost trucking companies a great deal of money. According to one report, it accounts for nearly 25% of all roadway delays, costing an estimated $#3.5 billion per year on average.
In general, inclement weather wreaks an incredible amount of havoc on the nation’s highways. Researchers estimate that 24% of all vehicle accidents in the U.S. between 1995-2005 were at least partially attributed to poor weather conditions. These accidents led to 673,000 injuries and 7,4000 fatalities.
Who’s Liable for an Accident in Severe Weather?
It’s not much of a stretch to imagine that truck accidents make up a significant portion of those weather-related accidents. After all, some trucking companies are notorious for placing profits over the safety of not only other motorists on the road, but even their own drivers.
But truckers can also be guilty of driving negligently in hazardous weather conditions. They might push through fatigue even when the skies open up, making it even more likely that they’ll cause a devastating accident.
Not only can a trucking company and a driver be held liable for any kind of accident (whether it happens on dry roads or during inclement weather), other parties could face liability as well.
For example, trucking companies will sometimes outsource the loading of their vehicles to third-party businesses. When they load cargo in a negligent manner, that load can shift during transit. This can cause a truck driver to lose control. If this is the case, then an injury victim could possibly sue that company for negligence.
Contact an Experienced Truck Accident Attorney ASAP
In order to prove that negligence, however, you’re going to need the help of a skilled, experienced truck accident attorney – and you’re going to need to get that help as soon as you can. Fast action will be imperative, because an investigation into the accident will need to start before critically important evidence disappears.
The law firm of Penn Kestner & McEwen is staffed with attorneys who have a deep understanding of truck accident cases. They know how to investigate, and they also know how to handle the complexities that can arise from this type of litigation.
Put our skill and experience to work for you. We’ll be here to keep you thoroughly informed, and we’ll be more than happy to answer all of your questions. Contact us online for a free case review, or give us a call at (800) 732-3070.