The roads in New Jersey are often treacherous during the winter months because of heavy snow, powerful winds and dense fog. All motorists should slow down and drive cautiously in these conditions, but truck drivers behind the wheels of tractor trailers should be especially vigilant. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulations require commercial vehicle drivers to exercise extreme caution in hazardous situations, but this rule is often ignored by an industry that runs on tight schedules.
Blizzards that dump several inches of snow on roadways in a matter of hours and reduce visibility to just a few feet are the most serious winter driving hazards in Northeastern states like New Jersey. When truck drivers fail to reduce speed in these conditions, chain-reaction crashes that involve cars as well as commercial vehicles are the inevitable outcome. This is exactly what happened in Pennsylvania during the afternoon hours of Dec. 16 when 66 vehicles were involved in a chain-reaction accident on Interstate 80 because of white-out conditions. According to media reports, 55 of the vehicles that crashed were tractor-trailers.
High winds and driving rain
Extreme weather conditions are not just a winter phenomenon. Winds gusts of 50 mph are common in New Jersey even during the summer months, which makes operating tractor-trailers safely virtually impossible. This is because high winds can blow even a fully laden commercial vehicle into neighboring traffic lanes without warning, and there is little a truck driver can do to prevent this from happening. Other summer driving hazards for truck drivers in the Garden State include driving rain, flash floods and heat-related tire blowouts.
If you received an injury in a commercial vehicle accident that took place in adverse weather conditions and plan to take legal action, the truck driver or trucking company you sue could make an argument based on the legal doctrine of comparative negligence. If they are successful, the amount of damages you recover will be reduced according to what the court determines is your degree of fault. An attorney with experience in motor vehicle accident cases may anticipate this defense strategy, and they could gather evidence to counter it by studying accident reports and obtaining the electronic data that most modern vehicles now record and store.