With all the snowy weather hitting the USA over the weekend, this seems a great time to remind the motoring public of the dangers of driving near big trucks during the winter. Statistics suggest that the big rigs can be even more dangerous during the winter months. There is an increase of 5% in trucking related crashes and injuries and fatalities during the winter. While the adverse winter weather conditions are partially to blame, truck companies failing to properly maintaining their trucks for winter conditions and truck drivers ignoring Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations that limit speeds and stopping distance in winter conditions are more significant factors.
Winter Maintenance for Trucks
While many of these safety hazards can be avoided if the trucking companies and drivers complied with FMCSA maintenance requirements and driving regulations, there are enough examples of such violations that I am inclined to suggest that the problem is widespread. As I’ve said before, truck companies and truck drivers should be held to a higher standard given the size and mass of the big rigs.
I contend that if truck companies performed preventative maintenance inspections in anticipation of winter to included checking fluids, requiring longer warming times when starting a run, checking belts, batteries and tires, there would be fewer winter related crashes.
Winter Driving Practices for Truck Drivers
As a truck accident lawyer, I also believe that if truck drivers were issued reminders and provided consistent training for driving in winter conditions, the number of winter related crashes would be reduced. For example, either not driving or stop driving when it is sleeting and or snowing hard, or leaving 15 seconds or more between the vehicle in front of them during these conditions and reducing their speed to be able to stop within this distance would eliminate most winter related crashes. However, how many of us have witnessed trucks blowing by us or riding right up on us during a sleet or snow storm? I will bet that all of us have experienced this scary moment while trying to navigate on the road in our smaller, more vulnerable vehicles during these adverse weather conditions.
Without truck drivers and trucking companies taking a more proactive approach to winter safety, we are all at risk when sharing the roads with them during winter.
Safe Driving Tips for Winter
As a way to deal with these situations, if it is sleeting or snowing or is particularly slippery out on the roads this winter, I recommend trying to stay behind or in other lanes than these trucks. I also recommend you contact authorities if you see a trucker driving too fast or on too closely to other vehicles during these conditions. If you simply raise your awareness and try to avoid being around these trucks while on the road this winter you will be much safer and at ease during your travels.