Commercial truck driving is one of the most dangerous occupations across the country. This is especially true for long-haul truck drivers who must battle drowsy driving, hindered visibility at night, and adverse weather conditions during the winter months.
According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), the average long-haul truck driver works 60-hour weeks and drives more than 107,000 miles per year. Additionally, a study by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health found that around 35% of long-haul truckers reported at least one crash in their career.
Below, we discuss how winter road conditions impact truck driver safety, the common causes of winter truck accidents, and how everyone on the road can stay safe during this time.
Weather-Related Accident Statistics
Adverse weather conditions can ultimately make roads more dangerous for all those driving on them. Here are some statistics from the Federal Highway Administration showing how weather events can impact road safety:
- Approximately 21% of all vehicle accidents are related to the weather
- There are more than 1,235,000 weather-related crashes each year
- On average between 2010 and 2016, there were 418,005 people injured and 5,376 people killed in these weather-related accidents
- Of all weather-related accidents that cause injury, 78% occur on wet pavement, 51% occur in the rain, 14% occur in the snow/sleet, and 11% occur on icy pavement
How Winter Impacts Long-Haul Truck Drivers
Winter can be a dangerous time to be on the road for a driver of any vehicle, but maneuvering a big rig, semi-truck, 18-wheeler, or other commercial truck can make this feat exponentially more difficult and risky.
Adverse Weather Conditions
During the winter months, many areas of the country experience colder and wetter conditions, including rain, hail, snow, and fog. As we mentioned above, weather conditions negatively impact road safety in the following ways:
- Reduced visibility
- Reduced pavement friction and slippery roads
- Difficulty steering
- Road obstructions
- Increased stopping distance
- Additional stress on vehicle equipment and functionality
Online deliveries have changed the game for holiday shopping. While it may be more convenient for consumers to get gifts, toys, and products delivered to their homes, it’s important to note that the increase in freight traffic also coincides with an increase in winter truck accidents.
For truckers, this time of the year brings tight holiday deadlines. As such, they may be more inclined to speed, continue driving despite fatigue, drive during high-accident times, or otherwise engage in unsafe driving practices to get all cargo delivered to the proper destination on time.
With more deliveries comes more need to get cargo transported in as few trips as possible. Trucking companies make more money when they are able to reduce the number of long hauls and therefore reduce expenses related to paying truck drivers, maintaining truck equipment, and paying for gas.
As a result, some trucking companies may purposefully overload trucks with cargo that is above the maximum weight limit set forth by federal and state laws. An overloaded truck endangers the truck driver and all other drivers on the road and can result in:
- The truck driver losing control
- A truck tip over
- Brake failure
- The load to become loose and strike other vehicles
Fewer Daylight Hours
With fewer daylight hours during the winter, many truck drivers spend the bulk of their time behind the wheel when the sun is down. For truckers, nighttime driving is often the best time to drive because there are also fewer cars on the road.
However, driving at night inherently reduces visibility on the road and increases the risk of drowsy driving or falling asleep at the wheel. Truckers are more susceptible to drowsy driving, compared to normal vehicle drivers, since they are on the road for extended periods of time.
Injured in a Long Haul Trucking Accident?
Long-haul truck drivers, as well as the companies that employ them, are responsible for taking the steps necessary to prevent winter-related truck accidents by preparing vehicles to face harsh winter. When they fail to take these steps, the consequences can be catastrophic.
If you or a loved one is injured in a commercial truck accident, our Waco truck accident attorneys want nothing more than to stand in your corner and fight for the full compensation you need to heal. Our dedicated legal team will guide you through the process every step of the way, ensuring that you understand what’s going on with your case and answering any questions you may have along the way.
Contact the Law Offices of Vic Feazell at to get started with your free, no-obligation case review today. You can also fill out our online contact form and we will get back to you as soon as possible.