Risk of Truck Accidents Increases With Bad Weather
When winter hits, or when summer downpours occur, driving in Northeast Ohio can become difficult. This is especially true for people who drive large commercial vehicles like semi-trucks, 18-wheelers, buses, and heavy construction equipment.
Weather adversely affects vehicle performance and makes driving challenging. Freezing rain, heavy rain, snow, and sleet make it harder to see. Ice or puddles increase braking distances and the likelihood of losing control.
According to the Federal Highway Administration, of the 5,748,000 accidents that occur every year roughly 22 percent are weather related. When an accident involves a large commercial vehicle like an 18-wheeler that might be carrying close to 80,000 pounds, the risk of an accident causing catastrophic damage is very real.
Cleveland’s “Dead Man’s Curve” Notorious for Causing Truck Accidents in Bad Weather Events
The stretch of highway known as Dead Man’s Curve, the almost 90-degree turn in downtown Cleveland where I-90 approaches Lake Erie, is especially dangerous during winter months. The stretch of highway received its name shortly after it opened in 1959 because drivers were not able to slow down in time to take the curve safely. This stretch of highway has has resulted in numerous fatalities over the years.
Improvements to Dead Man’s Curve have made it safer, with a lower 35 mph speed limit, rumble strips, and better signs. As a result, there have been no fatalities at Dead Man’s Curve since the turn of the century. Nonetheless, Dead Man’s Curve is still responsible for hundreds of injuries and overturned trucks.
Trucks Pose a Significant Hazard, Especially in Winter Weather
Even in the best of conditions, large commercial vehicles are more difficult to maneuver than a smaller vehicle. When roads become icy, water covered or snow covered, a truck can pose a significant hazard.
Winter temperatures hovering around freezing create almost perfect conditions for a dangerous accident. As temperatures rise during the day, snow thaws and melts. But when temperatures drop below freezing at night, all that water freezes again and creates dangerous and icy road conditions. Highways like I-90, I-71, I-77, I-480, and I-271 can quickly turn to sheets of ice, and vehicles traveling at highway speeds can easily lose control.
Of course, drivers of big rigs remain responsible for the safe operation of their vehicles. In fact, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR) state that “extreme caution in the operation of a commercial motor vehicle shall be exercised when hazardous conditions exist” and that extreme caution is to be used when “snow, ice, sleet, fog, mist, rain, dust, or smoke adversely affect visibility or traction.”
How to Avoid Truck Accidents in Bad Weather
When the weather turns cold and/or the road conditions deteriorate, the risk of a catastrophic collision with a truck or other large vehicle only increases. All drivers, not just commercial truckers, should follow common-sense safety guidelines when driving in wintry conditions. These include:
Slowing down - braking distances increase in bad weather, and slower speeds give drivers more time to react and more distance to bring the vehicle to a stop
Increasing following distance - if the vehicle in front of you comes to a quick stop, you’ll have more time to react and avoid a collision
Checking and maintaining your vehicle - especially during winter months, keep your vehicle in good working order by checking headlights and tail-lights, as well as defrosters, tires, and fluid levels
Robenalt Law Has the Experience, Expertise, and Resources to Hold Negligent Trucking Companies Responsible
Trucks are the primary mode of cargo transportation in the United States, responsible for almost 75% of all cargo moved. Trucks are responsible for approximately 8 percent of motor vehicle accidents and are responsible for almost 4,000 fatalities every year.
Crashes that involve large vehicles like semi-trucks, 18-wheelers, construction vehicles, and buses are complex to litigate. There are many different people, companies, and other entities involved in shipping a single load. Finding them all and holding the right party responsible is a difficult job. That’s why you need a skilled and experienced Ohio truck accident lawyer on your side. At Robenalt Law, we have the experience, expertise, and resources to go head-to-head with large trucking companies and their lawyers to obtain compensation for victims of catastrophic truck accidents.
Commercial vehicles have complex insurance plans and numerous layers of of protection including different corporate entities who are responsible for different parts of the operation, and expensive corporate law firms to defend them. The complexities of litigating a trucking accident can make them difficult to win. At Robenalt Law, we fight for injured people and their families to obtain the compensation then need and deserve. We frequently are called upon to handle catastrophic injury and wrongful death cases arising from truck injuries that occur in Ohio during times of inclement weather.
Robenalt Law Fights for the Rights of People Injured in Trucking Accidents
If you or someone you care about was injured in a truck collision, contact an attorney as soon as possible. Time is of the essence, and the trucking companies and the companies that insure them will waste no time in sending teams of insurance representatives whose sole job is to minimize the risk that the trucking company will suffer an adverse judgment.
Tom Robenalt started his litigation career representing trucking companies at a large firm in Cleveland. For the past 25 years, he has used that experience to help victims and the families of those injured catastrophic truck accidents.
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