Truck Driving – Is Driving in Adverse Conditions Legal?March 27, 2017
Driving in adverse weather conditions causes one in ten accidents involving commercial motor vehicles. Federal regulations and commercial motor vehicle driver handbooks specifically address driving in adverse weather conditions. Adverse weather conditions such as snow, ice, sleet, fog, mist, rain, dust, smoke, or other materials negatively affect visibility or traction. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSR) enacted requirements in an effort to force commercial vehicle drivers to operate their vehicles with a heightened sense of caution when hazardous and adverse weather conditions exist.
Federal motor carrier safety administration (“FMCSA”) regulation § 392.14 requires that commercial drivers be proactive when adverse weather conditions exist, such as reducing speed or completely stopping all operation of their vehicle. The regulation specifically holds that when conditions become sufficiently dangerous, operation must be discontinued and shall not resume until the vehicle can be safely operated. Nonetheless, it is quite common for 18-wheelers and other commercial vehicles continue driving at their regular rate of speed, regardless of the weather conditions. Even more dangerous conduct is driving in cruise control in adverse weather conditions.
Additional responsibilities are placed on commercial truck drivers according to § 392.14. In an effort to further reduce accidents that occur under hazardous conditions, drivers are also responsible for knowing the forecast, communicating with dispatch regarding weather on a particular route, and researching the weather forecast prior to traveling. Failure to take these actions can show evidence of a commercial driver’s negligence in the planning and operation of their vehicle and causing unnecessary risk to all other drivers sharing the road.
Ultimately, the discretion to drive or not to drive falls on the driver, but that discretion is not always exercised appropriately. If the driver believes the conditions are not so severe to cease operation, they are required to use extreme caution. Courts have held that “extreme” is defined as the “greatest, highest, strongest, or the like.” Failure to meet this level of care can result in truck wrecks causing life-ending or life-altering injuries to those struck by an 18-wheeler. If a lawsuit is filed on behalf of parties injured in an adverse weather accident, the driver must show they were using the highest amount of care possible while operating their vehicle. If the driver is found to have used any lesser degree of care, they are liable for the damages they caused by choosing to drive in the adverse conditions.
If you or a loved have been involved in a truck wreck and suffered injuries as a result of the negligence of another person, please contact us immediately. The attorneys at the Amaro Law Firm have successfully handled complex commercial vehicle accident lawsuits and can help you hold all responsible parties liable in order to obtain maximum compensation for your injuries. Contact us today for a free consultation.