There are a wide variety of weather conditions that can cause accidents for commercial motor vehicle drivers. The Texas Department of Transportation reports that in 2015 there were 518,577 automobile crashes due to weather conditions. Blowing sand, crosswinds, fog, hail, rain, smoke, and snow are just some of the weather elements that contributed towards these accidents. Rain was the most dangerous weather element and caused 57,958 automobile crashes in Texas in 2015. Rain causes water to mix with oil on the road which creates particularly slippery surfaces on which vehicles travel. Because commercial motor vehicle drivers operate vehicles that require increased skill to properly maneuver the vehicle, adverse weather conditions can make conditions particularly difficult for commercial motor vehicle drivers. This entry will examine the role that weather plays in accidents involving commercial motor vehicles.

Regulations for Commercial Truck Drivers During Adverse Weather

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration contains various regulations concerning how commercial motor vehicle drivers must operate vehicles in adverse weather conditions.

  • Commercial truck drivers must exercise extreme caution when driving in adverse weather conditions like dust, fog, ice, mist, rain, snow, and smoke.
  • In adverse weather conditions, commercial truck drivers must reduce speed. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration recommends that commercial truck drivers reduce speed by a third on wet roads and more than a half on snow covered roads.
  • If weather conditions become dangerous enough, commercial motor vehicle drivers must stop driving and wait until the vehicle can be safely operated before driving the commercial motor vehicle again.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration also advises commercial motor vehicle drivers operating vehicles in adverse weather conditions should adjust speed to adequately respond to potentially dangerous weather conditions. Additionally, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration also advises commercial truck drivers to not use a retarder or “Jake” brake on slippery surfaces.

Many states also have additional rules regulating how commercial truck drivers must operate commercial motor vehicles in poor weather conditions. For example, Texas’s commercial driving license guidelines specifically address how commercial truck drivers must operate vehicles in the fog, snow, and rain in addition to other weather conditions. In many of these situations, commercial motor vehicle drivers in Texas must stop driving commercial vehicles until the adverse weather conditions have passed.

Despite numerous state and federal regulations concerning how drivers must operate vehicles in adverse weather conditions, however, drivers are often either in a hurry to complete hauls. For various reasons, drivers place pressure on themselves to complete hauls quickly. Sometimes, trucking companies also place unreasonable expectations on how long it will take drivers to complete certain hauls.

If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident involving unsafe weather conditions, contact our law firm. Call 409-838-1000 or email our lawyers to schedule your free initial consultation.