Utah Truck Accident Caused by Dangerous Weather
Bad weather increases the chances of traffic collisions for all vehicles. But when inclement weather causes truck accidents, the consequences can be heartbreaking.
Utah sees its fair share of bad weather every year. Truckers must deal with hazards like rain, ice, snow, and wind like every other motorist. But unlike the average driver, truckers operate vehicles weighing up to 80,000 pounds. Tractor trailers need more time to stop in regular weather, but even more when roads are slick or obstructed by snow accumulation or debris.
Because of this danger, the truck industry requires drivers to receive specialized training before hitting the road. While truckers cannot control the weather, they should adjust their driving practices to accommodate hazardous conditions. Disaster can strike if they don’t.
Did you suffer injuries in a weather-related truck crash? You may be eligible for compensation for your medical bills and other losses. Talk to the Utah truck accident lawyers at Swenson & Shelley. We understand the unique challenges of truck accident cases and can help you seek maximum compensation. Call or contact us today for a free consultation.
Is Weather a Leading Cause of Truck Accidents in Utah?
Bad weather is a significant cause of truck accidents, both in Utah and nationwide. Data from the Utah Department of Public Safety show that 13 percent of all truck accidents in a recent year were due to bad weather. These weather-related crashes caused 113 injuries and three fatalities.
National statistics indicate a similar pattern across the United States. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), rain and snow accounted for almost 10 percent of all fatal truck accidents and over 11 percent of all truck injury crashes across the country that same year.
Responsibilities of Truck Drivers in Bad Weather
Truck drivers receive clear guidance from FMCSA on their responsibilities when driving in inclement weather. Federal trucking regulations state that:
“Extreme caution must be exercised when hazardous weather conditions adversely affect visibility or traction as it relates to a motor vehicle. Drivers are required to reduce speed under such conditions. If conditions become sufficiently dangerous, operations must immediately be discontinued until the vehicle can again be safely operated. In a case where the danger to the driver, occupants or other users on the road would increase by stopping, the driver may continue operating the vehicle until the nearest place the danger can be eliminated.” (6.3.10 Hazardous Weather Conditions (392.14)
Put simply, truck drivers must do whatever they can to reduce their likelihood of causing a car accident. Here are preventative steps truck drivers should take in adverse weather conditions:
- Heavy rain – Truck drivers should slow down and pay more attention to the road in heavy rain. Rain decreases visibility and can significantly affect a truck’s friction with the road. Truckers should also step on the brakes earlier and more gently to avoid hydroplaning or rear-ending another vehicle.
- High winds – Because semi-trucks are top-heavy and frequently carry massive payloads, strong winds can be a significant safety hazard for truck drivers. Heavy winds can cause a truck’s trailer to start fishtailing. Rollover accidents are a threat if a truck’s cargo shifts in transit. Drivers should check the local weather forecast along their routes and watch for high winds. Pulling off the road is generally the safest way to avoid a collision in these conditions.
- Fog – Reduced visibility is already an issue for truck drivers, whose rigs have larger blind spots than other cars. Fog makes it worse. Truckers should reduce their speed in foggy conditions and try to pull over safely. If there is no available exit, they should use their low beams to improve visibility without blinding other drivers.
- Snow and ice – Winter weather can create traction problems for trucks. Using chains on their tires can help truck drivers maintain traction and stay safe. Truckers should also slow down and make gentle maneuvers when driving through snow or ice.
Determining Liability After a Weather-Related Truck Accident
Multiple parties may share liability for a weather-related truck wreck. These include:
- Truckers – Truck drivers should know the dangers of inclement weather and take appropriate precautions. If drivers do not adjust their speed or take other steps when driving through bad weather, they could be held liable for an accident.
- Trucking companies – Truck companies should hire experienced drivers who can drive safely in all conditions. They are also supposed to monitor their drivers to ensure they are responsible. If a trucking company employs a driver with a poor safety record or encourages a driver to ignore bad weather conditions, they can be liable for a crash.
- Vehicle or parts manufacturers – If a truck’s brakes or other systems fail in inclement weather, there may be nothing the truck driver can do to avoid an accident. Truck and parts manufacturers can be held liable if a mechanical defect contributes to an accident.
- Other drivers – Motorists also struggle in bad weather. If a negligent act led to the trucking accident, the driver might bear some or all of the blame.
What Makes Truck Accidents So Dangerous?
The main factors that make truck accidents so dangerous are their massive size and weight. According to FMCSA, trucks can weigh 20 to 30 times more than the standard passenger car.
All that extra weight means that a truck hits another vehicle with significantly more force than smaller vehicles. It also means truck accident victims are more likely to suffer severe injuries.
How to Avoid Truck Accidents in Bad Weather
The best way to avoid a truck accident in bad weather is to stay home. Follow these safety tips if you must drive:
- Ensure your car is in good working order. Check tires, windshield wipers, wiper fluid, and mirrors.
- Give trucks plenty of room on the road.
- Stay out of a truck’s blind spots.
- Slow down and make gentle maneuvers. Don’t tailgate, pass aggressively, or cut close in front of a truck.
What to Do if You Are in a Truck Accident in Utah
Here’s what to do after a Utah truck crash:
- Call 911 to report the accident and alert emergency medical responders.
- Get the truck driver’s name, address, phone number, commercial driver’s license number, and personal insurance information. You also want to get the truck’s license plate number, the driver’s employer’s name, and company insurance information.
- Use your phone to take pictures of the damage to all vehicles, the accident scene, and your injuries.
- See your doctor promptly to rule out undetected injuries and start medical treatment.
- Save all your medical records and accident-related receipts related to the accident.
- Do not give any statements to an insurance company until you have spoken to a lawyer.
- Contact a Utah truck accident lawyer right away.
Contact Our Utah Truck Accident Attorneys Today
Swenson & Shelley is a respected personal injury law firm with one mission: the relentless pursuit of justice for accident victims.™ Our firm has more than 30 years of experience helping injured people seek justice and fair compensation in Utah. Put us to work for you. Call or contact us today for a free consultation.