Weather is a factor is about 21% of vehicle crashes.. Rain, snow, ice, hail, sleet, fog, mist, smoke, dust, extreme heat or cold and high winds are some examples. With global warming, bad road conditions caused by weather and environment conditions are becoming more common. Many of these can can affect visibility, traction and reduce the ability to semis and other large trucks to operate safely.
18 wheelers and other big trucks operate day and night and are exposed to a wide range of these adverse weather conditions making safe operation more difficult or impossible. Not surprisingly, each year weather caused bad road conditions cause of thousands of 18 wheeler accidents and other big truck wrecks. Some of the primary weather conditions which cause hazards are:
Stopping without skidding takes longer on slippery roads. Federal research indicates that in 2012 7% of fatal truck accidents and more than 9% of injury truck crashes happened in the rain, making it probably the leading adverse weather condition associated with truck wrecks. Stopping distance can double on wet roads. Rain and wet roads also reduce traction, decrease vehicle maneuverability and control. Heavy rain can reduce visibility and cause wet brakes which can reduce or eliminate braking ability. Rear-end collisions, head-on wrecks, jackknifes and sideswipes are examples of truck accidents in which rain can play a factor.
Truck Wrecks on Ice & Snow
About 24% of weather-related wrecks happen on roads with snow, ice or slush on them. Each year these crashes cause more that 100,000 injuries and over one thousand deaths. Snow or ice covered roads severely degrade traction reducing the driver’s ability to maneuver and control the truck. Stopping distances also increase. On snow packed roads a standard reference manual for truck drivers recommends that reducing speed by at least one-half. On icy roads the manual advises them to slow to a crawl and get off the road as soon as they safely can.
Some risk factors for truck accidents in snow are heavy snow, especially when coupled with shorter, darker winter days which can limit the visibility necessary for safe truck operation. Trucks are also more subject to equipment failure in these conditions. Approximately 2.5% of injury truck crashes in 2012 occurred in snow or ice conditions according to Federal research. The reduced traction and visibility conditions snow and ice can be factors in truck wrecks like head-on and rear end crashes, sideswipe collisions, situations where the truck jackknifes and other types of accidents.
Fog limits visibility, increases crash risk and in a factor in approximately 1% of wrecks. The safe speed to operate a truck in fog depends on the visibility ahead. In some cases if visibility is to limited, it may be necessary for the truck driver to pull off the road until conditions improve. Truck wrecks which happen in fog conditions often involve high-speed impacts increasing the risk for fatalities. Because of fog, a truck driver may not be able to see the traffic lane lines potentially causing head-on or sideswipe collisions or vehicles ahead of it causing a rear end collision.
Among the other weather conditions which can negatively affect truck safety and be involved in truck crashes are: hot weather, sleet, smoke, high winds, dust or blowing materials.
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations- Weather Conditions
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations require truck drivers exercise extreme caution in conditions when rain, sleet, snow, ice, dust, mist, smoke or fog negatively affect traction or visibility. If the conditions are dangerous enough, the driver is generally not permitted to drive and must wait until the vehicle can be operated safely. Your 18 wheeler crash attorney should determine whether weather conditions were a factor in your crash and use this regulation, if applicable, in your case.
In the event of a truck accident, there are often serious and even tragic consequences. If you or someone you love has been seriously injured, disabled, or killed in a trucking accident caused by poor road conditions or poor weather conditions, call Flick Law Firm as soon as possible.
LAWRENCE FLICK LAST REVIEWED AND EDITED THIS PAGE ON MAY 20, 2020