Inclement weather has an immediate impact on flows of traffic. Heavy winds, rain storms and fog are among the different conditions that may force drivers to change their habits at the wheel to reduce their chances of causing a major collision.
Motorists need to be aware of how the weather might affect their commute so that they can make the best choices for their own safety. They also need to understand how the weather might potentially influence other vehicles in traffic. For example, semi-trucks are large and structured differently than passenger vehicles, which means the impact of inclement weather on 18-wheelers can be very significant. What does bad weather typically mean for semi-trucks in traffic?
Weather issues exacerbate vehicle limitations
There are several safety concerns related to the size and structure of commercial trucks that bad weather simply exacerbates. These include visibility issues and limitations on the driver’s ability to maneuver. In general, commercial vehicles have large blind spots around them. When there are weather factors exacerbating those visibility issues, a driver could very easily make a mistake that leads to a preventable crash because they don’t see someone else approaching them. The drivers also need to be aware of the fact that their massive vehicles can also be harder for people to spot.
Perhaps the most significant concerns relate to the ability of a semi-truck to stop, turn or otherwise maneuver in traffic. There are limitations on such abilities even in the best of conditions. Commercial trucks take roughly twice as far to stop as smaller vehicles traveling at the same rate of speed. They make wide turns and often take longer to move from one lane to another as well. All of those factors mean that commercial trucks will be even more dangerous when the roads are slick or visibility is low.
There is a final consideration, which is the pressure on commercial drivers to get their loads in on time. Semi-truck drivers may choose not to slow down as they should in bad weather because of a looming deadline. They may therefore drive in a manner that is patently unsafe given the road conditions.
When the weather is bad, it is therefore more important than ever to remain carefully aware of the presence of semi-trucks nearby in traffic and to give them as much space as possible. Learning about factors that increase someone’s crash risk could help a driver make better choices out on the road.