Anyone who has driven on a day where there is rain, hail, severe wind, or snow or ice knows that adverse weather conditions can definitely have an effect on vehicle performance. Indeed, when weather conditions are poor, it may be harder to see due to impaired visibility, and a vehicle may be harder to control or stop.
This same phenomenon, difficulty controlling a vehicle and driving safely when weather conditions are adverse, is not only true for drivers of commercial trucks, but heightened. Large trucks can weigh up to 20 times more than the standard passenger car, and can be even more difficult to stop and control, even when weather conditions are ideal.
How Weather Conditions Affect Driving and the Risk of Commercial Truck Accidents
Information published by the U.S. Department of Transportation – Federal Highway Administration, provides a detailed look at the effect that certain weather conditions can have on roads, traffic, and vehicle maneuverability. Consider the following effects of weather, according to the data:
- Wind. Wind may affect visibility distance, cause lane obstructions, affect traffic speed, increase accident risk, and impact vehicle stability and performance.
- Precipitation. Precipitation can be a more dangerous type of weather condition, affecting visibility distance, pavement friction, roadway capacity, accident risk, travel speed, traffic, traction, and more. If water accumulates, water level can also affect safety and accident risk.
- Fog. The biggest risk of fog is that it can negatively impact visibility. However, in addition to visibility, fog can also impact traffic speed, driver capabilities and behavior, and accident risk.
- Road temperature. When we think of risky weather, the above types are the most common that come to mind, but pavement temperatures can cause infrastructure damage that increases the chances of a crash and should not be overlooked as a potential risk.
The same source cited above also stated that on average, about 22 percent of crashes (of all motor vehicles, not just commercial trucks) are weather-related. Further, there are about 6,000 people killed in weather-related crashes every year.
Another study published by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration analyzed causation factors for large truck crashes that occurred throughout the country over a period of approximately 2.5 years. Of the crashes recorded, investigation shows that nearly 5 percent of large truck crashes were caused by environmental factors, including adverse weather conditions.
Is Weather Always to Blame?
The statistics above show that weather can certainly increase the risk of a crash, and that commercial trucks may be harder to navigate when adverse weather conditions are present. Furthermore, one can assume that there are likely times when poor weather is the direct cause of an accident, and that drivers involved have little control or influence over an accident’s occurrence.
But bad weather does not mean that a crash is inevitable. In fact, when bad weather strikes, the thing that causes an accident is almost always the actions of the driver of the motor vehicle involved, not the weather itself. When adverse weather conditions are present, drivers are tasked with the duty of operating commercial vehicles with a heightened sense of care, which may mean slowing speeds, taking an alternate route, taking turns with more caution, or even ceasing operation until adverse weather conditions clear.
Working with an Experienced Truck Accident Lawyer in Alabama after a Crash
If you have been involved in an accident with a commercial while driving in adverse weather conditions, you may be wondering whether or not you can bring a claim against the trucking company, or if weather–an uncontrollable phenomenon–was to blame. While it is true that weather can increase the risk of a crash and make vehicles more difficult to control, if a truck driver acted negligently, such as driving at a speed that was unsafe for conditions, you still have a cause of action and a right to recover damages.
To learn more about how to bring forth a claim and recover damages for your harm, or the harm of a loved one, after a commercial truck crash, contact our Montgomery truck accident lawyers at the law offices of McPhillips Shinbaum, LLP for a free consultation today. We can be reached at (334) 262-1911 or through our website contact form.