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Are Truckers Responsible for Causing Accidents During Bad Weather?

Posted On January 18, 2017 In Truck Accidents

Truck drivers must be extra cautious in bad weatherTexas is no stranger to extreme weather conditions. We have thunderstorms, tornadoes, snow (sometimes) and the occasional hurricane. Depending on the time of year, driving in Texas can be a scary experience. Bad weather also makes truck accidents more likely. The difference between car accidents and truck accidents caused by bad weather, is that the latter should never happen in the first place. Regulations exist to prevent bad weather truck accidents.

Are There Rules to Prevent Bad Weather Truck Accidents?

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) Rule CFR §392.14 requires commercial truckers to use extreme caution during hazardous conditions. These conditions are not exclusive to weather. The rule mentions snow, ice, sleet, fog, mist, rain, dust, smoke or other conditions that “adversely affect visibility and traction.” Truckers must reduce their speed when these conditions exist. If conditions make driving a truck sufficiently dangerous, truckers must pull over until it is safe to drive again. Truck accident lawyers call this the “extreme caution rule.”

The Texas Commercial Motor Vehicle Handbook also has suggestions and requirements for truckers driving in bad weather. For example, truckers are expected to:

  • Check lights and reflectors from “time to time” during bad weather.
  • Check brakes, tire pressure, fluid levels and wipers to ensure they can work during extreme weather conditions.
  • Look for signs of road icing.
  • Remove ice from windshields or mirrors.
  • Adjust driving speed, turning and braking to weather conditions.

These are just a few examples of suggestions and regulations found in the Texas Commercial Motor Vehicle Handbook. There are additional requirements depending on the type of weather. For example, truckers are expected to check tire pressure every 100 miles or two hours in hot weather to prevent blowouts.

Attorneys can pull from multiple sources and regulations to show when commercial drivers are liable for bad weather truck accidents.

When Might Weather Affect Liability for a Truck Accident?

Let’s say for example, a truck driver causes an accident during a severe winter rainstorm. This driver spun out of control and jumped the median, colliding with multiple passenger vehicles. An investigation into the accident reveals the driver did not slow down to accommodate for dangerous weather conditions. Instead, the driver was travelling at the normal posted speed limit. In addition, it was discovered the truck’s tire pressure and tread could not safely maintain traction with the road.

A truck accident attorney could argue this driver did not follow the extreme caution rule and did not properly maintain the vehicle. Motorists and passengers injured by this driver may have legal options to pursue damages.

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