It takes skill to drive a truck, especially a big rig, but even the most experienced of drivers find themselves at the mercy of winter weather. Snow, ice, and high winds create challenging obstacles that truckers must learn to maneuver through. Unfortunately, some of these obstacles are out of your control.
So, what is a truck driver’s responsibility in bad weather? Some accidents are unavoidable, like sliding on a large patch of black ice, but there are several steps you can take to avoid a crash as well as the legal repercussions that come with it. Here’s what you need to know.
When to Pull Over
Every driver knows to slow down when facing poor driving conditions. When snow impacts your visibility or ice is present, it’s always better to be safe than sorry. Unlike other vehicles, truck drivers must pull off the road when conditions become dangerous.
With deadlines for shipments, it’s a tough call to make. Keep in mind, though, that you can be held liable if you fail to pull over. This responsibility is about your safety as well as other drivers. When in doubt, that shipment can wait.
Providing Ample Space
Drivers Ed teaches everyone to give a little extra space in-between vehicles when poor weather strikes. That same rule applies to truck drivers, and failing to do so can be considered reckless driving. That goes for other drivers as well.
Inspect Your Vehicle
No trucker should hit the road without inspecting their vehicle beforehand. Safety regulations require you to check your tires, lights, wiper blades, and more when winter weather strikes. It isn’t enough to do a once-over before your trip, either. You need to do this each and every time you drive, which includes after rest stops.
There are cases, however, where the driver isn’t to blame for faulty equipment. Your company’s maintenance crew may not have performed their job up to par, and several companies have come under fire for sending their truckers out in dangerous vehicles. If your equipment caused an crash, it’s vital that you hire an experienced truck accident lawyer immediately.
Create a Safety Kit
It is also your responsibility to have a safety kit on hand for inclement weather, especially when traveling long distances. Your kit should include the following to help you handle winter’s challenges:
- Jumper cables
- Tire chains
- A flashlight
- Warm gloves
- Rain gear, like a poncho
- A thick blanket
- A first-aid kit
- An extra pair of winter boots
- Extra socks
- And a backup battery for your phone
That’s just the bare minimum. You can create the ultimate safety kit for any type of weather by adding as many as you like from road flares to duct tape. The more you have at the ready, the better equipped you are to handle any situation.
Truck Accidents and Winter
While truckers can be held liable if their responsibilities are not met, not all winter accidents are their fault. The other driver in questions can be found liable for a wide variety of traffic violation, and the company your drive could also be at fault.
Hiring the right attorney to represent you is vital to proving your case. You might need legal expertise in ADA defense if your company failed to provide adequate accommodation, or a lawyer who routinely deals in company negligence. As long as you follow through with your obligations, there’s nothing to worry about.