Winter Weather and Trucks: a Deadly Combo
Sometimes we may have the luxury of remaining home during icy or snowy weather. Truck drivers, however, often must stay on the road because it’s their job to move freight. Most truck drivers are professionals who drive with skill and care, but it’s important to remember that truckers are controlling up to 40 tons of vehicle, and in some cases on Indiana roads, up to 67 tons. A moment’s inattention can have devastating consequences when it occurs on slick roads. Conditions such as these can make deadly chain-reaction collisions likely.
An average of nearly 6 million vehicular crashes occur each year in the United States. During 2014, around 476,000 of those crashes involved buses and large trucks. In bad weather, the number of crashes climbs. It’s in your best interests to be informed about risks and the ways you can manage them.
Numbers Tell the Story
Of the nearly 6 million crashes happening every year, roughly 22 percent of them—1,259,000—are considered “weather-related.” Weather-related specifically means crashes occurring under adverse weather conditions (ice, sleet, snow, rain, fog, strong crosswinds, or blowing snow) or on slick road surfaces (wet, icy, or snowy). Almost 6,000 people are killed, and more than 445,000 are injured, on average, in weather-related crashes every year.
Most of these weather-related collisions take place in the rain or on wet pavement. But a significant portion of crashes occur during winter driving conditions:
- 17 percent of crashes occur when it’s snowing or sleeting
- 13 percent take place on icy roadways
- 14 percent happen on slushy or snowy roads.
Risky Behaviors on the Road
Truck drivers should generally exercise good judgment when road conditions are poor. But when they don’t, certain behaviors make it more likely that a crash will occur under winter driving conditions:
- Driving too fast for road conditions, speeding, or following too closely. Any vehicle weighing 40 tons or more is going to need a lot of pavement to stop. Bad weather conditions translate into even greater stopping distances. Winter conditions also mean that a truck is more likely to jack-knife or slide into other vehicles.
- Making abrupt lane changes or similar moves. Drivers should signal their intentions and check twice for other vehicles. Abrupt movement on snowy or icy roads can also cause a driver to lose control.
- Stopping in the road. When conditions make driving too hazardous, truck drivers who stop must ensure that all parts of their vehicle are well off the roadway. Warning lights and caution triangles should also be used.
- Being poorly prepared. All truck drivers should carry the appropriate winter gear, including tire chains, for driving in snowy or icy conditions. Drivers should also ensure that all their lights are working, and that cargo is properly secured or loaded. Interstate truck drivers are required by law to inspect their vehicles daily for such issues.
- Driving while under the influence of anything. We’re not only talking about alcohol or illegal drugs. Distracted driving because of cell phones, or even the side effects of some over-the-counter cold medications, increases the risk of a crash.
If you are driving on winter roads around large trucks, remember that it’s good to keep your distance, to pass with care, and to be cautious on snowy hills.
The Question of Negligence
When a driver fails to take appropriate precautions in bad weather or on slippery roads and causes a collision that injures or kills others, the driver could be considered negligent and held legally responsible for damages. Many of the risky behaviors listed in the previous section could be considered grounds for negligence.
But sometimes it’s not only the driver who can be considered negligent. Some possible situations where negligence could be considered a causative factor are:
- If the trucking company forced or insisted that the driver continue operating in bad weather conditions when they should not have been on the road
- If the party or parties who loaded the truck did so badly, causing or contributing to the accident
- If the employees who loaded the truck were improperly trained
- If the truck was poorly maintained
- If a mechanical failure occurred.
If you believe negligence was involved in your truck collision, seeking professional legal advice could be a wise move.
Trusted Advisors. Proven Advocates.
We at McNeely Stephenson know that truck accident cases can mean complex legal claims. Such claims require thorough investigation and demand aggressive litigation to secure the best possible outcome for the plaintiff. While monetary compensation can never undo the damage done as the result of a truck accident, a financial recovery can ease the financial burdens caused by overwhelming medical bills, loss of income, and disability.
If you or a loved one has been involved in an accident with a truck in the Indianapolis area, we suggest you talk with truck accident lawyer Mike Stephenson. With more than three decades of experience, substantial financial resources to commit to your case, and a commitment to the highest standards of client care, you can count on Mike. Contact him today by calling 1-317-825-5200 for a free accident consultation, or use our online contact form.