Winter Truck Accidents: How They Happen and Who Is To Blame

Every year, the coming of winter means that accidents increase on the roads. In Ohio, especially, winter brings whiteout conditions, slick roads, and heavier traffic, all of which can be deadly when you combine other factors such as trucks on the road, distracted or sleepy driving, or drunk driving. Commercial trucks, carrying freight, can weigh tens of thousands of pounds, and as such, truck accidents can be especially lethal. With the trucking industry notorious for long hours on the road, it is no wonder that the federal government has regulations in place for truckers’ rest breaks and hours on the road.

Common Types of Trucking Accidents and Why They Happen

There are many reasons for trucking accidents and ways accidents happen. It may not be apparent right away who is to blame, but if a truck is involved, the accident is much more likely to result in injury or death.

Handling the aftermath of a truck accident can be complicated, and it is important to see an attorney right away to help in planning the next steps. Sometimes, if a truck is involved, it may be the trucker’s fault for not being a responsible and careful driver or not attending to the repairs and maintenance needed. On the other hand, the trucking company may be to blame if it does not do its part in maintaining trucks and creating and enforcing rules for safe trucking. Finally, other drivers on the road could be to blame if they drive recklessly around trucks. When you see a truck on the road, you have to remember that trucks cannot react as quickly as a normal, smaller vehicle, and truckers have much poorer visibility around the perimeter of their vehicles at any given time. As such, regular vehicles should drive carefully around trucks, brake gradually, and get out of potential blind spots.

Common reasons for truck accidents:

  • Drowsy driving
  • Poor truck maintenance
  • Low visibility or whiteout conditions
  • Hazardous weather conditions
  • Slick or icy roads
  • Drunk driving
  • Speeding
  • Distracted driving

Common types of trucking accidents:

  • jackknifing
  • runaway truck if brakes fail
  • sliding and skidding, especially on ice
  • Overturning or rolling over
  • going off the road, hitting medians, rails, or vehicles
  • causing multi-vehicle crashes

Federal Regulations for Truckers

The federal government has long realized the danger that trucks pose on the road, and it has been continually revising the regulations governing truckers for decades. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration issued the Hours of Service regulations that all commercial vehicles are subject to, including truck drivers, commercial and city bus drivers, and school bus drivers. The regulations draw boundaries around when drivers can get back on the road, how long they can drive for, and rest breaks.

Truck drivers may drive only if 8 hours or less have gone by since the driver’s last off-duty or sleeper-berth period of at least 30 minutes. A truck driver may drive a maximum of 11 hours after 10 consecutive hours off duty. Another rule states a driver may not drive longer than the 14th consecutive hour after coming on duty, following 10 consecutive hours off duty. Off-duty time does not extend the 14-hour period. If a commercial vehicle is carrying passengers rather than just property, then a driver may not drive after 60 hours on duty in 7 days or after 70 hours on duty in 8 consecutive days. The rules for trucks carrying passengers, as opposed to freight, are similar but with slightly shorter allowable stretches of driving duration.

Robenalt Law Is Here to Help

Attorney Tom Robenalt has over 20 years handling semi and truck accident cases involving federal regulations. You don’t need to take on trucking companies and insurance companies yourself if you’ve been involved in an accident with a truck. Our firm will be there to make sure you get the compensation you deserve. If you need to speak with someone about a truck accident you or a loved one was in, call our Ohio personal injury law firm today at (216) 223-7535 or fill out our online form.