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Adverse Weather Conditions for a Truck Driver and Its Consequences
How Bad Weather Can Negatively Impact Big Trucks
Poor weather conditions affect trucks on the road in many ways. Wind, snow, and rain can significantly reduce visibility, traction, and a driver’s ability to control the vehicle. These adverse weather conditions can cause even the most seasoned truck drivers to spin-out or fail to brake in time, among other accidents. Truck drivers have to consider the risks of driving in severe conditions and be trained to handle their tractor-trailers in these situations.
Drivers should be made aware of their right to protection in poor weather. The Surface Transportation Act (STAA) protects the rights of truck drivers in adverse weather conditions by prohibiting employers from disciplining drivers who have refused to drive their semi-trucks in fear of an accident.
A List of Must-Have Items for Truck Drivers
High wind speeds can be a serious issue for truck drivers. Wind can carry dust, rain or snow, and debris, limiting the driver's visibility. Strong gusts of wind can also push a big rig. While large commercial trucks are far heavier than your average car, they also have more surface area for the wind to catch. These large surfaces act almost like a sail on a boat if wind speeds are high enough.
The best-prepared truck drivers have an intimate knowledge of the wind's effect on their ability to control their vehicle. Increased wind speed can cause the trailer to waver and, in some cases, knock the trailer over. To limit the event of these avoidable accidents, truck drivers have to be cautious—and employers understanding—when operating their vehicles in adverse weather conditions.
Rain, snow, sleet, and hail can impact a big truck’s ability to brake, come to a complete stop, and make complete turns. Adverse weather conditions also cause traffic to move at a slower rate, which can increase the risk of accidents.
In addition to brake issues, precipitation can decrease visibility. Both issues make for a perfect storm of hazardous conditions to operate a tractor-trailer. Truck drivers must always consider the visibility of the road when operating their trucks to prevent accidents to the best of their ability.
Truck drivers are trained to avoid using their Jake Brakes on slick or icing roads as they are not designed for snow-covered roads and not to overuse their foot brakes unless their tractor-trailer is in a straight line. Braking in slick or icy conditions limits the driver’s ability to come to a complete stop increasing the likelihood of a wreck. It is best to avoid driving in these conditions.
Common Causes of Truck Accidents in Adverse Weather Conditions
Truck accidents are often caused by poorly fitted hitch trailers and over-worn tires. Truck drivers need to conduct a thorough inspection of their commercial vehicle before every trip to avoid these common issues.
Being prepared for all weather conditions further limits the likelihood of a truck accident. In addition to preparing their vehicle, truck drivers are trained to operate their rigs at the optimal speed, given the weather conditions.
In adverse weather conditions, truck drivers may have to move at slower speeds to respond to visibility and control issues. The best truck drivers have the experience necessary to monitor the weather at all times and make the appropriate choices for ensuring the safe operation of their semi-truck.
If at any point, the weather has become too treacherous to drive safely, truck drivers are protected by Federal Safety Regulations. Under the STAA, truck drivers may refuse to drive their commercial vehicle at any time if hazardous conditions limit their ability to operate their vehicle safely.
Federal regulation [49 C.F.R.§392.14] clearly states they may wait at the nearest safe location until conditions improve. Employers may not seek discipline or termination of the truck driver if inclement weather has affected their visibility and confidence to control their 18-wheeler.
Because there is no clear-cut test to determine how severe hazardous conditions may be, the ability to control the vehicle and clearly see the road is at the discretion of the driver. Truck drivers need to have what is called “reasonable apprehension” that they are in danger of an accident or wreck due to adverse weather conditions. Employers are discouraged from pressuring truck drivers to rush deliveries in poor weather, and drivers retain the right to refusal.
Were You Hurt in a Commercial Truck Accident in Texas?
Your truck accident could be the result of mechanical, driver, or manufacturer negligence. You need an attorney with experience handling such cases to get to the bottom of your injury lawsuit. At Stephens Law Accident Firm, we make ourselves available to our clients 24/7—call our hotline at 281-682-1701 or request a free consultation. We are ready and willing to put our over 30 years of experience and legal expertise to work advocating for Houston truck drivers' rights in adverse weather conditions.
Types of Trucking Accidents We Handle in Houston and Across Texas:
Truck Driver DWI
Wide Turn Accidents
Blind Spot Accidents
Read End Accidents
Lost Load Accidents
Hire an Attorney With Experience Winning Truck Accidents
Joe Stephens is a top-rated truck accident lawyer in Houston, Texas with over 30 years of experience. His experience includes trying and winning big truck cases all over Texas. Having taken over 100 cases to successful verdicts he has a long reputation of fighting tenaciously for those who have been injured by others. Cases involving big truck collisions can be very complex and present difficulty proving negligence of the truck driver, the trucking company, or both. Joe's experience with these cases allows him to get right to the heart of the matter, his clients rights and owed compensation.