Truckers must use “extreme caution” when driving in winter weather

March 6, 2018 Mike Sloan

Bad winter weather is a certainty in New Jersey. Whether it is snow, ice, sleet or the feared nor’easter, New Jersey drivers are used to navigating their way through these conditions. Nevertheless, truck crashes occur when truck drivers are unable to stop their trucks to avoid cars stopped on highways and roads due to the weather. Defense lawyers representing the trucking industry use the weather as an excuse when their drivers cause these types of crashes.

However, bad weather is never an excuse for a truck crash. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs) explicitly address how truckers should drive in bad weather. In §329.14 of the FMCSR, “extreme caution in the operation of a commercial motor vehicle shall be exercised when hazardous conditions” exist.

The FMCSRs do not define what is meant by “extreme caution.” Therefore, trucking attorneys must look to other trucking authorities to determine what constitutes “extreme caution.” The American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators (AAMVA) is an organization that produces a model CDL manual used by all of the states to craft their own CDL manuals.

§2.6.2 of the AAMVA CDL Manuals states that a truck driver should “reduce speed by about one-third on a wet road. On packed snow, reduce speed by a half, or more. If the surface is icy, reduce speed to a crawl and stop driving as soon as you can safely do so.”

Importantly, §2.6.2 of the New Jersey CDL manual is identical to the AAMVA CDL Manual. Therefore, the NJ CDL Manual defines “extreme caution” in the same way and truck drivers operating in New Jersey must use extreme caution when driving through bad weather.

Unfortunately, if you often drive in New Jersey, it is common for truck drivers, because of their size, to speed through icy or snow covered roads. In addition, in bad weather conditions, truck drivers still continue to ride the bumper of the cars in front of them. The size of their trucks gives truck drivers a false sense of confidence. But this inevitably leads to more crashes.

Attorneys who are not familiar with the trucking laws and regulations can often be bullied by the trucking industry defense attorneys into abandoning cases. The trucking defense lawyers blame the weather and claim that the truck accident was an unfortunate and unavoidable consequence of the weather.

However, experienced truck accident attorneys who know the trucking laws and regulations can defeat these arguments. In addition, experienced truck accident attorneys can use the “extreme caution” rules to show that the truck driver and their company ignored the weather conditions and acted negligently.

If you have been injured in a truck accident, contact the truck accident lawyers at RAM Law for help with your case.

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