Being from North Dakota, we are accustomed to driving in snowstorms and know that it requires extreme caution. However, for interstate truck drivers who may not be from a snowy area of the country, running into a snowstorm in North Dakota may create dangerous conditions for all folks on the road. Generally, an 18 wheeler fully loaded may weigh up to 80,000 pounds. When an 80,000-pound tractor/trailer smashes into a 2,000-4,000 pound vehicle, catastrophic injuries and death are caused in an instant.
Safety Requirements For Driving In Slippery Conditions
All interstate truck drivers are trained on how to operate their commercial motor vehicles in adverse or winter weather. First, the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), contains a section for driving in hazardous conditions. Specifically, 49 CFR §392.14 states:
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. Whenever compliance with the foregoing provisions of this rule increases hazards to passengers, the commercial motor vehicle may be operated to the nearest point at which the safety of passengers is assured.
As such, a heightened standard of care is applied, which is listed as “extreme caution”. But what does that mean?
Interstate truck drivers are required to take a test to get their commercial driver’s license (CDL), which includes training and studying a commercial driver’s license manual.
In North Dakota, the Commercial Drivers License Manual at section 2.6.2, discusses traction when dealing with slippery road surfaces. The manual specifies that wet surfaces can double the stopping distance for a commercial motor vehicle. Therefore, the manual provides rules for a driver as it relates to reducing speed, depending on the type of slippery surface they are dealing with.
Types Of Slippery Surfaces
- Wet Road Conditions: Truck drivers are to slow down by one-third. As such, if they are traveling at 55 mph, the manual suggests slowing to 35 mph
- Packed Snow: Truck drivers are to slow down by one-half of their traveling speed. An example would be dropping from 60 mph to 30 mph
- Ice: Truck drivers are to reduce speed to a crawl, and stop driving as soon as they safely can do so.
The government recognizes the extreme safety hazard of having a commercial truck that can sometimes be near 40 times the weight of a regular vehicle on the road together. As such, there are different requirements for commercial motor vehicles. As this article has shown, “extreme caution” has to be exercised for commercial trucks traveling in slippery conditions. As we all know in North Dakota, where the weather is unpredictable, that is an important requirement to keep all travelers (including the truck drivers) safe on our roads.
This area of the law is highly technical. If you or a loved one you know has been catastrophically injured or killed in an accident involving a commercial motor vehicle, it is very important you get an attorney involved who knows trucking law and regulations. Nathan Severson is the attorney at SW&L Attorneys who handles all trucking accidents. To get in touch with our Personal Injury Team, contact us at 701-297-2890 day or night, or email us below.