Truck Driver Negligence in Bad Weather Conditions Can Cause Deadly Traffic Accidents
Driving during inclement weather poses many problems that driving on a clear sunny day does not. Anyone who has ever driven through a heavy rainstorm or through a snowstorm can tell you that under these conditions it is not as easy to drive. When there is an accident during bad weather many people are content to blame the bad weather as the reason for an accident, however, often times the weather is only one factor in an accident and a drivers’ negligence is the real reason behind the accident. Commercial drivers are under an intense amount of pressure to meet deadlines and are encouraged to cover great distances in a short amount of time, therefore when the weather is not ideal for driving, they often continue at the same speed despite the weather.
Take for example the recent accident that occurred on Interstate 26 in Buncombe County North Carolina. In this accident the North Carolina Highway Patrol stated that a tractor-trailer jackknifed on interstate 26 near New Stock Road as a result of bad weather.
In this accident, the troopers noted that the truck driver was driving too fast for the conditions and as a result the tractor-trailer hydroplaned and subsequently crashed into the guardrail. Hydroplaning occurs when there is water on the road and because of the amount of water and the speed that the car or truck is driving the tire or tires essentially ride on the water which causes the vehicle to lose traction. As was the result in this accident, the most common result of hydroplaning is a loss of steering, braking, and a loss of power control. In the context of a tractor-trailer, if a driver loses control of their vehicle even for an instant it often means that there will be an accident.
Unfortunately, this is not an isolated incident of a weather related truck accident. In Carroll County Virginia a God’s Pit tractor-trailer carrying supplies for a children’s home crashed as a result of poor weather. This accident happened shortly before 9 pm on Interstate 77. This accident was similar to the accident mentioned above, in that the driver was driving too fast for the weather and his tractor-trailer subsequently hydroplaned. The truck ran through several hundred feet of guardrail and drove down a steep embankment before finals stopping in a ravine.
Driving in Inclement Weather
When the weather is not ideal for driving there are some measures that a driver should take. As the two previous accidents have highlighted there is a very real possibility that a vehicle will hydroplane if it is driving too fast and there is water on the road.
Hydroplaning happens when the tires of a vehicle begin to ride on top of standing water that commonly collects on roads during and after a storm. The following are tips and guidance that all drivers should follow in the event that there is inclement weather
- Reduce speed – When there is bad weather the first thing that a driver should do is reduce their speed to a safe level. Despite the fact that the speed limit on a posted road may be as high as 75 miles an hour, when there is water or other natural forces at play it is not always safe to drive at this speed. Most automobile experts agree that reducing speed is one of the most effective ways to avoid an accident during inclement weather.
- Check vehicle – If you know that you will be driving in inclement weather of any type you should check your vehicle to make sure that it is in proper working order and that all the tires are properly inflated. In addition, a driver should make sure that their windshield wiper blades are functional and provide the driver with the clearest possible view of the road.
- Give yourself extra space – When the roads are wet, icy, or covered in snow it will take you longer to bring your vehicle to a complete stop. If you are driving a tractor-trailer this may mean that it will take you the length of multiple football fields to bring your vehicle to a complete stop. Therefore, when the weather is poor you should give yourself more room to brake.
- Pull over – When you are on the road you have a duty to make sure that not only you are safe, but that other drives around you are safe as well. There comes a time when the weather is simply too bad to continue safely driving. Therefore, at some point you have to acknowledge that the weather is not safe to continue driving.
If you are driving in inclement weather there is a higher chance that you there will be an accident. The Federal Highway Administration estimates that on average, there are over 5,748,000 vehicle crashes each year. Approximately 22% of these crashes which is approximately 1,259,000 are weather-related.
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