Weather is known for being unpredictable, especially in Colorado. Large commercial truck drivers, who spend their working days in the weather on the highways and byways of America, know better than most just how inclement weather can affect reaction time, control, and safety. When driving big trucks—already a difficult job—in bad weather, the risk of an accident can be greatly increased for a number of reasons. That's why there are Federal and state-level regulations regarding truck driving in snow, rain, heavy winds, and other weather conditions.
Bad Weather Can Affect Even the Best Truck Drivers
Big rig drivers face nearly every type of weather as they drive across the country for their jobs. Much of this weather is benign or even enjoyable, but some is hard to drive through and can lead to greater risk of a tractor trailer crash, including the following:
Heavy rain can decrease visibility to less than a mile. It also makes roads more slippery, leading to a greater chance of hydroplaning, losing control, and causing an accident. Heavy rain can also cause flooding and mudslides on Colorado highways, leading to road closures and other disasters.
Fog also decreases visibility, sometimes to mere feet in front of a truck. Given that fully-loaded tractor trailers can take upwards of 500 feet to stop, thick fog can be extremely dangerous, and truck drivers must drive with extreme caution in these conditions.
High winds are particularly dangerous for tractor trailers, as their greater surface area provides more opportunity for the wind to jostle, tip, or even push over the trailer. Winds can also cause trucks to jackknife, or essentially fold in two—leading to traffic accidents, delays, and more.
Snow and ice
Snow and ice are common in the mountainous terrain of Colorado, in winter and even into mid-spring. Snow can pack and slide down mountains in avalanches, blocking roads and making some highways impassable. Ice makes roads extremely slippery, lengthening trucks’ already-long stopping distance and making it more likely that a careless driver will cause an accident
Snow and ice also make the road harder to pass for passenger vehicles. When driving in inclement weather, truckers must not only pay attention to the road and its changing conditions, but also the possibly-erratic movements of other road users. It’s no wonder, then, that during bad weather, the rate of Colorado truck accidents greatly increases
Truck accident attorney Colorado on truck drivers’ responsibility
While bad weather can make driving more dangerous for a trucker, like every other driver it's ultimately their responsibility to adjust their driving to the conditions to keep everyone else on the road safe. When a truck driver fails to do so and causes an accident, they and their employer can be held liable for any damages that result.
Regulations for Truck Drivers Driving in Inclement Weather
Not only is it a good idea to drive safely as the weather conditions require: federal law requires truckers to modify their driving habits in hazardous conditions affecting visibility, traction, and control. The U.S. Code of Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR), Section 392.14, states that, when driving in hazardous conditions, truck drivers must
- Drive defensively and with sound judgment, no matter how confident they are in their own abilities in bad weather. The other drivers on the road may act suddenly and irrationally, and trucks cannot react to changing conditions in the same amount of time as passenger cars. In fact, if the weather becomes too dangerous, truck drivers must pull to the side of the road and wait for conditions to improve.
- Reduce their speed to prevent jackknifing, hydroplaning, and other disastrous losses of control in inclement weather, no matter the hazard
- Use their lights, both to improve their own visibility and to emphasize their location to other drivers
- Be prepared to stop at any time—especially because truckers have a longer stopping distance than passenger vehicles. If a trucker isn't paying attention and applies their brakes too late, they can cause a life-threatening crash.
Colorado bad-weather trucking laws
Colorado winter driving is challenging for anyone, especially truckers. Not only do they have to contend with the regular challenges of slippery roads, steep inclines, and tight twists and turns, but the passenger cars around them also pose challenges as they navigate the same weather.
Because of the unique challenges a mountainous state like Colorado has for truck drivers, it has its own laws for winter trucking, including the following:
Under Colorado's Chain Law, all commercial vehicles traveling on I-70 between mile markers 133 and 259 from September 1 through May 31 must carry sufficient chains for their tires. Without these chains in icy conditions, trucks can become disabled, causing road closures and other traffic delays.
Tire tread for vehicles on snowy roads must be at least 3/16 of an inch, and on dry roads, the minimum is 2/16 of an inch.
Truckers and other drivers with questions about Colorado's chain law and other winter weather traffic regulations can call 511 for information.
Truck drivers who neglect these laws can face fines, as they put themselves and others at risk of a dangerous accident. If you've been the victim of a neglectful trucker, call a truck accident attorney
. Colorado-based Metier Law Firm is here to help victims of truck wrecks, no matter when they happened.
What to Do If You've Been Hit by a Truck Driver in Bad Weather
If you've been hit by a truck driver on a Colorado highway, the first thing you should do is pull to the side of the road and call 911. First responders will make sure you and your passengers are stable and begin capturing the details of the wreck to use as evidence in the coming legal proceedings.
Once you're able, call a Colorado truck accident attorney
with Metier Law Firm for a free consultation about your accident. A dedicated personal injury attorney
will listen to your side of the story and provide advice on your next steps. Plus, we'll help you with everything from filing paperwork to arguing your case in front of a judge.
Metier Law Firm
is a group of award-winning attorneys for any life-altering injury. If you've been hurt, give us a call toll-free at (866) 377-3800
. We'll help you get the results you deserve.