January 12th, 2021
How Changing Road Conditions Require Commercial Motor Vehicle Operators to Slow Down
A posted speed limit does not always mean that speed is appropriate and/or legal. For instance, driving the speed limit during inclement weather can sometimes lead to catastrophic events. Commercial motor vehicles require much more distance to stop than, say, a passenger vehicle. A truck operator who fails to reduce his/her vehicle’s speed in such conditions increases the probability of a catastrophic crash. With that said, adverse road conditions are not always in the form of weather. Construction zones and congested highways create hazards that require truck drivers to be alert and drive defensively.
Why do adverse weather conditions create issues for truck drivers? Rain and snow are inherently slick. When those substances come in contact with oil/fluids on a roadway, they create an even more hazardous condition. In such instances, commercial motor vehicles will slide and/or skid whenever brakes are applied. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations recommends that truck drivers reduce the speed of their vehicle by at least one third whenever traveling in inclement weather. Accordingly, a truck traveling on a road with a posted speed limit of 60 miles per hour should reduce its speed to at least 40 mph. Moreover, truck drivers are educated through state agencies issuing commercial driver’s licenses to be more cautious whenever driving through curves, as the majority of most speed related crashes occur in those areas. It is common sense that adverse weather conditions make those areas even more treacherous, as trucks become more prone to skid and slip in these areas.
Truck drivers also need to consider how their loaded trailers change the manner in which their respective vehicle will react to roadway conditions. These giant vehicles have a higher center of gravity, and the change of weight distribution from the front of the semi-tractor to the rear end of the trailer can certainly cause issues. A loaded trailer also adds stopping distance and has a greater probability of rolling over than an empty trailer. Truck drivers carrying a load need to adjust to how the trailer will react, or they may lose control of the trailer, causing it to swing out or roll over. The same can be said for truck drivers pulling an empty load, as those can easily swing during inclement weather when a hard brake occurs.
Commercial drivers entering construction zones need to also be attentive. For instance, a commercial driver must focus both on the road and on what is going on beside their vehicle. All drivers are required to travel slower in construction zones because it increases the amount of time drivers have to react to workers and/or an object obstructing the road. Now just imagine if a commercial driver is traveling too fast inside one of these zones.
Statistics have shown that 23 percent of truck crashes result because of a driver traveling too fast for conditions. Those conditions are defined as driving through rain, snow, construction zones or clear patches of road.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a crash involving a large truck or bus, please contact the trusted truck crash litigators at Bordas & Bordas, PLLC. I would love to listen to your story and offer advice about your legal options during a free consultation. When you choose us to represent you following a crash involving a commercial motor vehicle, we will investigate all the causes of the crash and pursue every available option to get you the compensation you deserve.