Stay Safe Sharing the Road With Semi-Trucks in Winter Conditions

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Driving in icy conditions is never ideal, but if you must make the trek during winter weather, you’re likely to share the roads with tractor-trailers. True snow days are few and far between for the semi-truck driver, who continues to drive in all but the most serious blizzards. Here’s what motorists can do to reduce their risk of being swept up into an accident with a tractor-trailer truck.

You Can’t Rely on Truck Drivers to Prevent Accidents

The delivery of supplies may be a necessity, but massive trucks can still pose risks. When their drivers lose control, these huge, heavy trucks can turn into crushing missiles. Icy roadways and the poor visibility that accompanies a blizzard can increase the risks of semi-trucks being involved in accidents.

Unfortunately, the two most reliable safety tips for driving in winter conditions may not be realistic for semi-truck drivers. Staying home isn’t feasible when the driver must deliver urgently needed medical supplies, perishable food items, and critical manufacturing materials.

If drivers must go out in icy, snowy, or slushy weather, they should slow down and drive with extra caution. Even on clear days with normal road and visibility conditions, truck drivers are under a lot of pressure to make deliveries quickly. Truck drivers’ focus on speed may make them likely to drive too fast for road conditions, and rushed truck drivers are less likely to drive with extra caution in winter weather conditions.

No company policies or financial priorities excuse reckless behavior behind the wheel, but the reality is that other drivers on the road may not be able to count on semi-truck drivers to keep them safe on snowy roads. Even in ideal weather and driving conditions, driving a tractor-trailer can be a difficult feat due to factors like large blind spots and stopping distances and the need to make wide turns. Inclement weather conditions only amplify these challenges.

Tips to Avoid Accidents With Big Rigs in Snowy Weather

Driving defensively is your best option when you have to be on snowy or icy roads in the vicinity of semi-trucks. Our recommendations for safe winter driving around large trucks are:

  1. Give the semi-trucks with which you share the road plenty of room to brake. Remember, tractor-trailers already require more time and space to stop, even without icy conditions. If you’re changing lanes or passing a tractor-trailer, make sure you leave enough room behind you. When possible, avoid quick or sudden stops when a tractor-trailer is behind you.
  2. Stay especially far behind when approaching bridges. Tractor-trailers often cross bridges to deliver products across states and regions. If you wind up behind a semi-truck approaching a bridge, slow down to put even more space between you and the truck. The rush of the large truck could loosen packed snow that has accumulated on the structure of the bridge, blasting it onto the cars in the truck’s wake.
  3. Be extra cautious in windy winter weather. Their height makes tractor-trailers more prone to tipping over or being blown out of their lane, so if winter winds are howling around you, make an effort to put more space between you and any large trucks.
  4. Respect the truck driver’s blind spots. The poor visibility produced by a snowstorm only makes a semi-truck driver’s considerable blind spots even more difficult to manage. Stay well out of a truck’s blind spots whenever possible.
  5. Minimize your own blind spots. Are you tempted to scrape off just enough snow and ice from your windshield that you will be able to see straight ahead? Take the extra time to fully clean ice and snow from your car. You need your view to be as unobstructed as possible, and you don’t want to risk ice and snow blowing off of your car and compromising the vision of a truck driver or another motorist.

What to Do If You Have Been in an Accident With a Big Rig or Another Commercial Vehicle

The worst of winter weather is likely still to come, but there have already been snowy and icy conditions throughout the region. These are the steps you should take if you’ve been in a collision with a semi-truck.

1. Report the Accident.

Reporting the crash is essential, and you can’t depend on the truck driver to do it. In some instances, truck drivers report the collision to the trucking company first, instead of the authorities. If you’re well enough to do so, call 911 to report the crash right away.

2. Get Medical Assistance.

Getting the medical care you require is also crucial. If emergency medical personnel are on-site, get yourself checked out promptly for any severe or potentially life-threatening injuries. Even if EMTs and paramedics don’t take you directly to the hospital, you should seek a more detailed examination and further follow-up care from doctors at an emergency room, an urgent care facility, or your doctor’s office.

Recovering from auto accident injuries is a process. Make sure that you keep following up with your physician about your care and following through with your treatments.

3. Talk to an Attorney.

The damage that results from a truck accident can pose serious financial consequences, including not only medical bills but also lost wages and other harms. To get compensated for these damages, you’re going to need to pursue a truck accident claim.

For the best chance of recovering the full amount of money you deserve, you should have an experienced truck accident attorney representing you. Truck accident claims are complicated matters, and not only because of the extensive injuries that often result from semi-truck accidents. Cases involving commercial vehicles are sometimes subject to specific rules that the average claimant isn’t familiar with. That’s one of the reasons having an attorney can help you secure more money—3.5 times more money, on average, compared to unrepresented claimants, the Insurance Research Council reported. 

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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