Why Trucking Accidents Are More Common During the Winter Months

Winter is upon us, and it brings with it snow, ice, and frigid temperatures. These conditions are enough to make any driver wary of hitting the road, so it shouldn’t be too surprising that they also pose a challenge for truck drivers. In parts of the country that experience all four seasons, truck accidents tend to spike in the winter months. It’s important to know why this happens and how you can protect yourself.

If you or someone you love has been hurt in a truck accident, don’t wait any longer to seek legal counsel. We’re here to help you fight for the compensation you’re owed. Call Kingbird Legal at 484-289-4880 to set up a consultation with our team of West Chester personal injury attorneys.

Unsafe Weather Conditions

Unsafe weather conditions make it far harder for truck drivers to do their jobs safely. Snow, ice, and low temperatures are hard on personal drivers. For drivers operating vehicles that are dozens of times heavier than a personal vehicle, these challenges are multiplied. It’s common to experience reduced visibility during snow and ice storms, which makes it much harder for truck drivers to avoid obstacles and stay in the proper lane. Unfortunately, truck drivers don’t have the same options that many personal drivers do—even if the weather is bad, they can’t just wait it out at home. Deliveries have to be made, even if that means driving in less-than-ideal conditions.

Decreased Traction

This is one of the most dangerous parts of driving a truck during the winter months. The traction on the road is significantly decreased, thanks to the buildup of ice and snow. Tractor-trailers already take a very long time to come to a complete stop, due to their length and weight. When you add in a decrease in traction, a truck’s stopping distance is even longer. Rear-end collisions are very likely in these conditions, and when a truck is involved, a rear-end collision at any speed can cause severe or fatal injuries.

Shorter Days

The increased visibility makes daylight driving much easier than nighttime driving. Unfortunately, days are incredibly short during winter, often leaving truck drivers in the dark for several hours longer at the end of each work day. This leaves them with limited visibility, putting them at risk of hitting wildlife or other obstacles. Winter weather is already very difficult to drive in. Navigating winter weather in the dark is a new level of challenge.

Mental Strain

When drivers are forced to concentrate intensely on the road, as they are when winter hits the region hard, it is mentally draining. This type of focus drains your energy, often leaving you feeling fatigued. Truck drivers are already at greater risk of fatigue than other drivers, and trying to navigate dangerous Pennsylvania roads in a winter storm for eight hours is guaranteed to leave them exhausted. Drivers under this type of mental strain on a daily basis are at a heightened risk of making avoidable errors.

Increased Pressure on Drivers

Poor weather and limited visibility just happen to coincide with the busiest time of year for the transportation industry. As many industries get ready for Christmas and the start of a new year, deliveries across the country ramp up. Truck drivers, already obligated to work insanely long hours and spend weeks away from home, pull even longer days and go even longer without seeing their families. 

They are often under significant pressure from their employers to finish hauls in record time, regardless of weather and traffic conditions. With holiday bonuses and jobs on the line, truck drivers may take unnecessary risks at this time of year. They may stay on the road an extra hour or two even when they really should call it a day. These types of risks lead to preventable accidents.

Injured in a Truck Accident? Contact Kingbird Legal Now

Winter truck accidents leave physical and financial devastation in their wake. If you’ve suffered injuries in a crash, it’s time to talk to Kingbird Legal. Find out how we can help by scheduling a consultation. Call us at 484-289-4880 or contact our firm online to set up a meeting time right away.

How Drowsy Driving Increases Trucking Accident Rates

Drowsy driving is a common factor in truck accidents. Truck drivers work long hours and generally work alone, putting them at significant risk of fatigue while behind the wheel. Monotonous activity, such as driving, can make drivers more prone to fatigue. Understanding the causes of drowsy driving, how it causes accidents, and what we can do to make the roads safer can go a long way in reducing accident rates.

Understanding the Impact of Drowsy Driving on Accident Rates
When you consider the multitude of ways fatigue impacts your cognitive performance, it is obvious why drowsy driving leads to more accidents. Fatigue negatively affects a truck driver’s alertness, reaction time, and decision-making abilities. This can lead to delayed responses when an unexpected obstacle is on the road or lead a driver to make a bad judgment call when they have to decide how to avoid a crash. These errors are almost entirely preventable.

Tired truck drivers are more prone to falling asleep at the wheel or experiencing momentary lapses in attention. These are major errors that dramatically increase the likelihood of a crash. Since truck accidents are already more likely to be severe than passenger vehicle collisions, this type of error can be fatal.

Factors Contributing to Drowsy Driving in the Trucking Industry
Several factors within the trucking industry contribute to the prevalence of drowsy driving among truck drivers. These factors include long and demanding work schedules. Truck drivers often face unreasonable schedules that involve long hours of driving, irregular shift patterns, and tight delivery deadlines. These factors can lead to inadequate sleep and force them back behind the wheel before they’re ready. Unfortunately, this type of change must come from within the trucking industry—employers must be held accountable when they force drivers to put in more hours than they can safely manage.

The trucking industry operates in a fast-paced environment where meeting delivery deadlines is crucial. Companies often put this pressure on drivers, rather than hiring enough drivers to meet deadlines safely. This pressure can push truck drivers to sacrifice sleep, choosing instead to drive for extended periods without adequate rest. Fatigued driving is nearly inevitable in this situation.

Consequences of Drowsy Driving in Trucking Accidents
Drowsy driving in the trucking industry can have severe consequences. It impacts the safety of the driver, other motorists, and the company they work for. Consider this: fatigued driving generally leads to more severe accidents. Trucking accidents involving drowsy driving tend to be more severe due to the size and weight of commercial vehicles.

High-speed collisions caused by drowsy driving can result in catastrophic injuries and fatalities. When a driver is awake and causes an accident, they at least have the chance to try to take evasive action and minimize the damage. A sleeping driver has no such opportunity.

Trucking accidents caused by drowsy driving can lead to significant legal and financial consequences. Trucking companies and drivers may face personal injury claims, legal penalties, increased insurance premiums, and damage to their professional reputation.

Limiting Drowsy Driving Risks and Enhancing Safety
There’s a lot that can be done by drivers, legislators, and company owners to make trucking safer. Some professionals have recommended even stricter regulations on hours of service and required rest periods, while others suggest enhanced education and training that informs drivers of the severe risks of drowsy driving.

Technology is one way to make drowsy driving less common. Some cars come with built-in eye detection that sounds an alarm when a driver’s eyes are averted away from the road or close completely. This type of technology in trucks could be lifesaving.

While some approaches focus on training and educating drivers, others put the onus on company owners. By citing company owners when they force truck drivers to work under unsafe conditions or while fatigued, experts suggest that we may see far fewer fatigued drivers on the road.

Have you been injured in a truck accident? You may be entitled to compensation for your medical expenses and other losses. Let’s sit down and talk about your options now. Set up a time to talk to the team at Kingbird Legal at our West Chester office. You can reach us online or at 484-289-4880.