Winter makes two things more dangerous – commercial trucks and poor driving conditions. One is bad enough, but when the two combine, it’s an especially hazardous situation.
As if we don’t have enough to contend with, winter gives us many safe driving challenges – less daylight, high winds, and slippery roads covered in water, snow, ice, or sleet (or a combination). We must adjust our driving to these conditions and be more aware of others potentially losing control and sliding into us.
That’s bad enough if it’s another sedan, minivan, or light truck. The chances of you becoming severely injured while driving in winter weather go up when a commercial truck (weighing up to 80,000 pounds) side-swipes you into a guardrail or t-bones you at an intersection.
Driver error is the most common cause of vehicle accidents. Here are accident-causing mistakes that commercial truck drivers make.
They drive too fast
Speed limits are the maximum legal speed during the day with perfect weather and road conditions. Truck drivers more intent on unloading or getting home than driving safely don’t slow down or don’t slow down enough when winter driving conditions are unsafe.
The faster they go, the longer it’ll take for the truck to come to a stop, especially if traction is poor. Truck drivers also have less time to react and decide what they should do if they’re coming up on a dangerous situation.
Drivers are unaware of or don’t take seriously enough the presence of black ice on the road
Black ice is a thin, practically invisible layer of ice. It often forms when snow or ice melts during the day but freezes as temperatures drop when the sun sets. The road may look wet, but it’s actually ice covered.
They tailgate other vehicles
Following too closely is always a bad idea, but it’s especially dangerous when traction on the road is poor and stopping becomes more difficult. A tailgating semi-truck whose driver hits the brakes to avoid rear-ending another vehicle risks jackknifing the truck (the trailer swings out from behind the truck and into another travel lane or the breakdown lane).
Commercial trucks caravan
Sometimes in bad weather, commercial trucks will travel together in groups. The upside is if one driver or truck gets in trouble, others are nearby to help. The downside is if they’re too close together, one truck losing control can cause a chain reaction accident. This would involve trucks next to them and any other vehicle unlucky enough to be close by.
Lights are covered in dirt, snow, ice, or salt
Drivers need to keep headlights clear to see in the dark better. Rear lights make the trailer more visible and inform other drivers the truck is stopping or turning. A crash into other vehicles is more likely if their drivers don’t know if the truck is stopping, slowing down, or turning.
Drivers don’t slow down on bridges, highway overpasses, and other elevated surfaces
They don’t use caution when on these roadway sections, which may freeze quicker than a regular roadway. A road or highway may be wet, but a bridge or overpass may be ice-covered because cold air, not warm ground, is below them.
Drivers don’t address the bald or underinflated tires they ride on
The greater the tread, the better the traction on water, snow, sleet, or slush. The truck may just slide if the driver tries to brake or turn if there’s not enough tire tread.
As temperatures drop, tire pressure decreases, and the chance of a blowout increases. This can cause loss of control and leave behind in the roadway a tire carcass that can cause an accident if another driver hits it or tries to swerve around it.
The driver doesn’t replace worn wipers
Being able to see what’s around you is key to safe driving. Worn wipers don’t remove water, snow, or ice from the windshield. They just smudge them across the glass surface. This is especially dangerous when driving at night when visibility during a storm gets worse.
The driver’s unprepared for high winds
In winter, there can be high winds with or without a storm. The side of a truck can act like a sail, and the wind can push it one way or another. The trailer may rock back and forth and become unbalanced if unsecured cargo is tossed around.
If this combines with a slick road, the driver may lose control. High winds can also cause a jackknife, or the truck may roll over.
The driver doesn’t stop driving
The conditions may become so bad it’s unsafe to drive a commercial truck. The driver should pull over or get off the highway and park somewhere safe. If the driver continues despite the lousy weather, they may cause an accident.
A Trusted Law Firm For Serious Trucking Accident Claims
If you or a family member is injured in a truck accident in Kentucky, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. Satterley & Kelley PLLC can protect your legal rights with our skilled and effective legal representation. Contact us online or by telephone at 855-385-9532 to schedule your free initial consultation.