Late November 2017, fourteen tractor trailers were seen lying on their sides in Colorado and Wyoming along a major interstate highway, close to the state line. The Denver Post reported that it was all caused by high winds. Then, on March second of this year, the local ABC affiliate reported that two trucks were overturned on the Mario Cuomo/Tappan Zee Bridge in New York. The cause was again due to extremely high winds.
Driving in bad weather can be dangerous, especially for a large vehicle like a tractor trailer. Snow, ice and rain can make roads slippery and treacherous, but high winds can actually knock one over. Tractor trailers are much larger and taller than other vehicles, and therefore “catch” the wind, which causes them to shift and move. When strong winds hit up against the sides of large trucks, they can rock, sway, and tip over. This can be deadly for the occupants of any vehicles riding alongside.
Licensed truck drivers should be familiar with driving in all kinds of weather, including high winds. As wind speeds increase, pressure grows around, under, and over the truck. The faster the truck is going, the stronger its effects. This is why slowing down significantly or stopping can prevent tipping over. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR) read: “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.”
An empty trailer can be even more hazardous, since it does not have as much weight. Unsecured cargo can be blown off a flatbed by winds if not properly secured or thrown around an enclosed trailer shifting around in the wind. These truck accidents are nearly all preventable.
There are many steps that truck drivers and trucking companies can take to promote safe driving in high winds. Listening to weather reports before departing and while on route can alert drivers to incoming threats of bad weather. Also, watching for road signs directing drivers to slow down during high winds, as well as flags, windsocks, and even grass and tree movement are all helpful.
Drivers who share the road should also be aware of the weather and look for markers that indicate high winds. Most importantly, keeping an extra distance away from tractor trailers and not passing in bad weather can save lives.
In high wind related truck accidents, the truck driver may be at fault if they were negligent by driving too fast or erratically. Distracted driving can also lead them to lose control of their vehicle. The driver must always use good judgment behind the wheel.
Mechanical issues can also cause trucks to topple over in strong winds. If the truck did not pass inspection, is in poor repair, or has not been properly maintained, the likelihood of an accident increases greatly. In these cases, the truck company could be at fault.
High winds are a contributing factor to these accidents, but they are not usually the only reason. Driver error or truck conditions may also be contributing factors. To determine liability, all of the variables must be considered. These include overall road conditions, weather, and any other drivers involved.
If you have been involved in a high wind trucking accident, you need expert help. Contact a professional Wilmington truck accident lawyer at Jacobs & Crumplar, P.A. today. We are conveniently located in Wilmington and Georgetown, Delaware to serve clients throughout Delaware. Contact us online or call us at 302-656-5445 to schedule a free consultation.