Truck Safety Regulations for Driving in Poor Weather
Texas is fortunate to enjoy pleasant weather for a majority of the year. However, when heavy rainstorms or the occasional black cloud move in, Texas roads can become extremely treacherous. Poor weather conditions can cause visibility and traction to be significantly reduced, while fueling driver anxiety—both of which greatly increase the odds of accidents.
While it may be understandable that drivers like you and me may be more likely to encounter an accident in bad weather, truck drivers, on the other hand, are not allowed the same forgiveness.
Weatherly Expectations for Truckers
As professional drivers, commercial drivers are responsible for ensuring that they maintain a reasonable speed and adjust driving for varying road conditions. The speed limit may say one thing, but visibility and traction-loss ultimately determine how fast or slow a truck can go. If the truck is traveling at 25 mph on the highway but visibility is so poor that the driver cannot see more than a few yards ahead of him, he is still traveling much too fast for conditions.
To maintain safety (both for the trucker as well as the vehicles around him) the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and the Texas Commercial Motor Vehicle Handbook have very specific regulations that commercial trucks must follow during inclement weather. If there are hazardous conditions, such as those caused by rain, sandstorms, fog, hail, etc., that adversely affect visibility or traction, commercial motor vehicles must:
- Exercise extreme caution. Although the trucker may feel comfortable driving in severe weather, other drivers may not be so confident. As a result of their anxiety, they could drive recklessly or unexpectedly, forcing the truck driver to react accordingly.
- Reduce speed. Slowing down will decrease stopping time in the event of an emergency while also decreasing risk for a jackknife.
- Pull over if necessary. If the hazardous conditions become sufficiently dangerous, the driver should stop and wait until it is safe to get back on the road again.
- Turn on lights. When visibility is compromised, truckers must be able to show their location to other drivers. In fog, headlights should be on low beams.
- Prepare to stop at a second’s notice. Trucks have a much longer stopping-distance than passenger cars. Drivers must be able to apply their brakes as quickly and safely as possible to avoid rear-ending a vehicle in front of them.
- Obey all weather-related traffic signs. Some areas may warn of flooding, rockslides, or other hazards, and truckers must be aware of the terrain to plan their route and precautionary steps.
Ignoring Safety for a Faster Run
If truck drivers are held to such high standards, why do they still get into crashes?
Unfortunately, many drivers are under intense pressure to deliver goods in a timely manner, and tight schedules do not always seem to allow for caution.
While the law states that commercial vehicles must be operated with extreme caution in inclement weather, there is no black and white cut-off for when trucks must slow down or cease operations altogether. As a result, many truckers will push the boundaries of safety to deliver their haul on time.
Shelter From the Storm
It can be easy for a truck driver to blame the weather for an accident. After all, you can’t exactly hold Mother Nature accountable for your injuries, now can you? However, commercial drivers are rightfully held to a high standard of safety when it comes to driving—no matter the conditions. As a result of this high-quality standard, they can be held liable for negligently driving in unsafe weather conditions.
If you have suffered an injury as a result of a truck accident, do not let the driver or his insurance company rain on your parade—so to speak. You deserve protection and compensation for your injuries. Call Attorney Steve Lee at 800-232-3711 to discuss your case in a FREE and confidential case review. Allow us to be your shelter from the downpour of insufficient settlement offers and the hurricane of insurance manipulations. Call now!