Weather Conditions

When weather conditions affect visibility and traction, the Federal Motor Carrier Administration mandates that drivers use extreme caution. This means reducing speeds in proportion to the weather conditions, and possibly stopping for a period of time if the situation becomes severe. Failure to follow this standard can result in devastating tractor trailer accidents. Approximately 25 percent of large truck accidents occur due to drivers traveling too fast for road conditions.

Dangerous Weather Conditions

Weather conditions that may affect safe travel include ice, snow, rain, smoke, and fog. Ice, snow, and rain may reduce tire traction. This can cause trucks to slide into other lanes, guardrails, or off the road. Attempting to correct a slide can cause tractor trailers to jackknife, rollover, sideswipe other vehicles, or drive into oncoming traffic. These types of situations can cause many accidents at once. Reduced visibility from smoke or fog is also very dangerous. Truckers struggling with low visibility may sideswipe or crash directly into other objects as road lines, signs, and vehicles disappear from view.

Safe Driving in Adverse Weather

There are guidelines in place to instruct tractor trailer drivers on the best ways to travel safely during inclement weather conditions. Tractor trailer drivers should reduce speed by one third on wet roads, or one half on snow packed roads. If speed has been reduced to these levels, and traction is still a problem, the driver should discontinue travel until conditions improve.

Tractor trailer drivers should reduce speeds as soon as rain begins to fall, as the water will mix with the oil on the road and create more slippery conditions than at any other time. Applying brakes too hard on wet or snowy roads can cause trucks to lose traction, going into a slide and possibly jackknifing. Curves can be treacherous during adverse weather conditions, and truck drivers should reduce speeds even further when rounding a curve. Loaded trailers can add to the dangers of adverse road conditions, causing the truck to rollover when speed is adjusted too quickly.

Increased Risk of Truck Accidents

In most cases, tractor trailer accidents that occur during adverse weather conditions could have been prevented by the truck driver. Adverse weather condition standards are in place to keep roadways safe, and when drivers fail to follow these standards, accidents may follow. An attorney can help accident victims determine who is responsible for costs incurred from a tractor trailer accident that was a result of inclement weather conditions.


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“Too Fast for Conditions.” U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. United States of America Department of Transportation, n.d. Web. 24 Oct 2013. <>.