When motorists think about the dangers associated with commercial vehicles, blind spots, improperly loaded cargo, and fatigued truckers are often first to come to mind. One of the lesser-known hazards, however, is high winds. High winds can put the safety of the trucker and other drivers at risk for a number of reasons.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there were well over 1,000 large truck crashes as a result of severe crosswinds in 2016. While the majority resulted in only property damage, hundreds resulted in injuries and eight caused fatalities. Truckers need to know how to safely navigate and operate their trucks in windy conditions; however, it’s just as important for all other motorists to be aware of the risks high winds pose and how to avoid dangerous situations.
Why Are High Winds Dangerous for Truckers?
Driving in high winds can be dangerous for any motorist; however, truckers are at an increased risk for accidents because of the size of their vehicles. Commercial vehicles are bigger, taller, and wider than most other vehicles on the road. Because of this, they are more likely to catch the wind. This can cause the trailer to move – especially if it’s light or empty.
If the trailer begins to rock or sway back and forth, the entire vehicle could quickly become unbalanced. As this point, the trucker could lose control of the vehicle and a collision may happen. If you’ve been injured in an accident involving a commercial vehicle, you may have grounds to take legal action to seek compensation you for what you’ve been through. Our attorneys can evaluate your claim and determine how best to proceed.
What Types of Truck Accidents Are Caused by High Winds?
No matter the cause of the accident, semi crashes are incredibly dangerous. Trucks carry a lot of momentum as they travel, which makes them more difficult to stop. This is why the damage is often substantial – especially when a smaller passenger vehicle is involved. High winds may result in the following types of tractor-trailer crashes.
- Truck Rollovers. This is the most common accident that results from high winds. When a driver loses control of a truck, especially if the truck has a light load, the vehicle can slide and roll over on its side. Depending on the traffic, other vehicles could be crushed by the turned semi.
- Jackknife Accidents. A jackknife accident happens when the trailer creates a 90-degree angle from the front part of the semi’s cab. In high winds, a trucker could lose control of their vehicle and try to brake too hard or too quickly, which may result in a jackknife.
- Under Ride Collisions. These are often the deadliest of truck accidents. In an attempt to regain control of a truck that has been thrown off by the wind, a truck could try to quickly stop. If the vehicle behind is too close or not paying attention, it could end up lodged underneath the trailer.
- Lost Load Accidents. If cargo is not properly secured in windy conditions, it could fly off the trailer and cause other motorists to swerve to miss the debris– which could result in collisions.
How Can Semi Accidents Be Prevented During High Winds?
There are a number of steps truckers and other motorists can take before driving and while behind the wheel to reduce the risk of a wind-related tractor-trailer accident.
- Check the Wind Speed. It’s always a good idea to check the weather before setting out for any drive. Truckers should also check the wind speed to estimate the danger level associated with traveling. As a general rule, and depending on cargo weight, wind speeds under 60 mph are safe; however, caution is recommended in the 40 mph and up range.
- Slow Down. Truckers should always be aware of their speed. If it’s windy, slowing down is always a good idea, as it’s easier to control a slower moving vehicle. Other motorists should also be aware of how fast they are going, so they can ensure they can efficiently stop in the event of an emergency situation.
- Stop Driving. If wind conditions are too high, it’s best to park and wait until the winds have died down. While waiting it out can be difficult when deadlines are near, preventing a deadly collision is more important.
- Understand Light Loads Are Riskier. As mentioned above, lighter cargo is more dangerous to haul in high winds. It’s important for truckers to know what they’re hauling so they can drive accordingly.
- Pay Attention. If you notice a truck in front of you is beginning to swerve in high winds, slow down and put as much distance as possible in between vehicles. Do not try to pass. No matter what you drive, always remain vigilant behind the wheel.
If you find yourself to be the victim of a big rig wreck, you’re likely to be dealing with medical bills, vehicle repair or replacement costs, and emotional trauma. At Bey & Associates, our Cincinnati truck accident lawyers are prepared to provide crash victims with the legal representation they need to recover the cost of damages associated with their accident. If you’re looking for legal guidance and recovery assistance, contact our attorneys to schedule a free consultation today.