How to Share the Road with Big Trucks During Inclement Weather
Inclement weather conditions like rain, snow, or icy patches can increase the risk of accidents, especially when sharing the road with large trucks. In the U.S., 24% of weather-related crashes happen on icy, snowy, or slush-covered roads, resulting in approximately 116,800 injuries annually and over 1,300 deaths.
During winter storms, adjusting your driving practices and exercising additional caution while sharing the road with semi-trucks is essential. This adjustment includes slowing your speed and putting more space between you and the 18-wheeler, even when it’s just rain or snow on the ground.
If you’re involved in a collision with a large truck, a Missouri truck crash injury lawyer from Cofman Townsley can protect your rights and help you file a compensation claim.
When driving in bad weather near semi-trucks, remember that their size and weight make them handle differently than smaller cars. Here’s what you should keep in mind when driving near heavy commercial trucks in bad weather:
- Longer stopping distances. Big trucks are much heavier and have a higher momentum, meaning they require more space to come to a complete stop. In normal conditions, a tractor-trailer going 55 mph can take nearly 63 extra feet to stop compared to a passenger vehicle. Wet, snowy, or icy conditions increase the stopping distance.
- Reduced visibility. Weather conditions like heavy rain, snow, or fog can impair a truck driver’s visibility. The size of the trucks also creates larger blind spots, making it challenging for them to see other vehicles around them.
- Traction issues. Wet or icy roads reduce the traction between a truck’s tires and the road surface, increasing the risk of skidding or losing control. Large trucks are more susceptible to jackknifing or sliding in slippery conditions than passenger cars.
- Wind resistance. Strong winds during winter storms can affect the stability of large trucks. Gusty winds can push or tip over tractor-trailers, especially empty or lightly loaded trucks, causing deadly road accidents.
For your safety and the safety of others sharing the road with big rigs in the St. Louis area, consider these additional measures when driving near semi-trucks under rainy, icy, or snowy conditions:
- Reduce your speed. Poor visibility and reduced traction can increase your stopping distance. Adjust your speed to match road conditions, which may often mean traveling slower than the posted speed limit.
- Increase your following distance. During wet, snowy, or icy conditions, increase the distance between your vehicle and a semi-truck ahead of you. Aim for at least a four-second buffer, and consider adding an extra second for every 10 mph you’re traveling over 40 mph. This additional space provides ample time to react and safely stop if necessary.
- Avoid blind spots. Semi-trucks have larger blind spots than most other vehicles. Stay out of these blind spots, especially the area directly behind and alongside the truck. If you can’t see the truck’s mirrors, assume the driver can’t see you. When passing trucks, do so efficiently and safely, and avoid lingering in their blind zones.
- Be patient when passing. If you must pass a large truck in bad weather, do so cautiously and patiently. Accelerate gradually, maintain a steady speed, and signal your intentions early. Give the truck plenty of space, ensuring you can see its entire front end in your rearview mirror before moving into the lane.
- Anticipate wide turns. Remember that semi-trucks make wide turns, especially when navigating tight corners or intersections. Avoid getting caught in their path by staying well behind and to the side of the truck, allowing enough room to complete the turn.
- Use your lights. Turn on your headlights in bad weather to improve your visibility to other drivers, including truck drivers. However, use your low beams or fog lights to avoid glare if it’s foggy. Use your turn signals early and keep them on while changing lanes or merging.
- Stay informed. Pay attention to weather forecasts and road conditions before starting your journey. If the weather worsens, consider delaying your trip or finding a safe place to pull over and wait until conditions improve.
You might still be involved in a crash despite taking precautions when driving near semi-trucks. If a negligent truck driver or trucking company’s actions harm you or a loved one, our attorneys at Cofman Townsley can protect your rights.
We can help you file a claim for compensation with the responsible party and represent your interests against aggressive trucking company insurers. We’ll help you prove negligent and win a fair injury settlement.
Contact us today for a free consultation and learn your legal options after a winter weather truck crash in Missouri.