Originally published in February 2011.
Winter is well upon us. While we are in California, wet and snowy weather affects everyone. One of the saddest aspects of our work is the realization that many of the cases we handle could have been avoided had the drivers been more cautious. You cannot control how everyone else drives. But you can increase your odds by exercising caution yourself. The advice we provide below applies to all vehicles. Remember that every time you pull out of your driveway, you share the road with 80,000-pound big rigs. Big rigs, due to their weight and size, respond differently than cars. Trained professionals usually drive tractor-trailer combinations. These professionals use their training and experience to drive safely. The safe operation is limited by the individual behind the wheel. If that driver is tired, inattentive, in a rush or has cut corners in other safety areas, the big rig becomes an 80,000-pound hazard. Don’t leave your safety or the safety of your loved ones solely in their hands — you too need to drive safely while sharing the road with commercial drivers. Exercise caution on the road and help them do their job.
• It’s all about the tires. There are only four points of contact that your car has with the ground. A typical passenger car tire has 20 square inches in contact with the road. You can have the best safety system in the world and use extreme caution but if your tires are not well maintained or aren’t appropriate for the conditions, you will have problems. The three key areas are tire pressure, tread depth and tire weather rating.
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