Bad weather is another major cause for truck accidents.
You cannot blame Mother Nature for high winds, fog, dust storms, snowstorms, slippery roads, wet pavement or torrential rains but you can blame the truck driver who continues to put the pedal to the metal regardless of dangerous road conditions. And you can blame the trucking company who doesn’t allow their truck drivers to cut back or adjust their working schedule to accommodate hazardous road conditions.
Pennsylvania’s Department of Transportation (PennDOT) has expanded RWIS to 79 sites that collect real time winter roadway conditions, using meteorological and pavement sensors. Each site reports pavement temperature; wet, dry, frost, frozen surface characteristics’ and amounts of de-icing agent on the surface. Each site updates the information every 15 minutes to one hour. In winter, more frequent updates can be obtained during winter storms.
“There’s no excuse for not knowing weather conditions”, stresses Jim Ronca, Pennsylvania Truck Lawyer. “By using the Road Weather Information System RWIS, drivers can stay informed about road conditions throughout PA’s interstates.”
For the past two years, James R. Ronca (Jim) has received the Pennsylvania Super Lawyer designation which is presented to outstanding attorneys who have been nominated by their peers, reviewed by a blue ribbon panel and evaluated by an attorney-led research staff.
Federal truck regulations require drivers to adjust their truck operation during inclement weather. Hazardous road conditions negatively impact visibility and traction. Drivers are required to slow down regardless of schedule conflicts or cease operation until road conditions improve. Most truck drivers have had little if any training how to operate their trucks in bad weather.
As a result of the increasing number of tractor trailer wrecks, large truck collisions, and other accidents, the federal government created the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR.) The FMCSR are laws that certain truck drivers and truck companies must follow when operating their tractor trailers.
The United States Code of Federal Regulations [49 C.F.R. §392.14] provides in pertinent part as follows:
Extreme caution in the operation of a commercial motor vehicle shall be exercised when hazardous conditions, such as those caused by snow, ice, sleet, fog, mist, rain, dust, or smoke, adversely affect visibility or traction. Speed shall be reduced when such conditions exist. If conditions become sufficiently dangerous, the operation of the commercial motor vehicle shall be discontinued and shall not be resumed until the commercial motor vehicle can be safely operated.
While this sounds good on paper, there is no clear cut explanation defining when a driver shall discontinue operations due to bad weather.
The Surface Transportation Assistance Act (known as STAA)
STAA prohibits an employer from disciplining or firing a commercial driver because that driver refuses to drive a commercial motor vehicle on the highways in violation of Federal safety regulations. The STAA also prohibits an employer from disciplining or firing a commercial driver because that driver refuses to operate a commercial vehicle when he has a reasonable apprehension of serious injury to himself or the public because of the vehicle’s unsafe condition.
When a driver claims that he has been wrongfully disciplined or fired in violation of STAA, his case may be heard by officials of the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). The DOL has decided only a handful of cases where a driver has been fired for refusing to drive due to bad weather.
Driving a truck is a macho job. Drivers don’t like to appear weak and truck companies don’t like to lose money which is why truck drivers continue to drive recklessly and cause fatal truck accidents.
“Are you ready to get tough tactics for truck accidents,’’ says Jim Ronca. “You deserve a fair shot at justice. Let me help!"