Virginia Personal Injury Lawyers
Extreme Caution in Hazardous Conditions
Every driver knows that commercial trucks and tractor trailers can be extremely dangerous on the road. Commercial trucks are especially dangerous because of their sheer size and weight, which makes them harder to stop and makes impacts with passenger vehicles incredibly damaging.
Truck drivers must follow a number of rules of the road to make sure their heavy trucks are controlled and safe. Perhaps one of the most important is the rule that a truck driver must use “extreme caution” when driving in “hazardous conditions.”
This rule is a federal regulation that is part of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations, at 49 C.F.R. § 392.14, and it states:
- 392.14 Hazardous conditions; extreme caution.
Extreme caution in the operation of a commercial motor vehicle shall be exercised when hazardous conditions, such as those caused by snow, ice, sleet, fog, mist, rain, dust, or smoke, adversely affect visibility or traction. Speed shall be reduced when such conditions exist. If conditions become sufficiently dangerous, the operation of the commercial motor vehicle shall be discontinued and shall not be resumed until the commercial motor vehicle can be safely operated. Whenever compliance with the foregoing provisions of this rule increases hazard to passengers, the commercial motor vehicle may be operated to the nearest point at which the safety of passengers is assured.
This provision gives an idea of what constitutes hazardous conditions. Such conditions may include anything that affects either visibility or traction, such as weather conditions like fog, ice, snow, mist, rain, or sleet. Or perhaps it could be something that is less common, such as dust or smoke, which could also impair a driver’s ability to drive safely. This list is not complete, meaning that there may be additional conditions that are not listed here that could be considered hazardous conditions.
The regulations do not provide as much guidance on what “extreme caution” means, however. But some of the requirements for extreme caution are common sense. A driver must drive slowly enough to maintain control, and if conditions are too foggy, slippery, or otherwise hazardous, a trucker should decide not to drive at all rather than take a dangerous chance.
Driving with extreme caution should also mean taking other common-sense steps:
- Not driving at such a speed that a truck driver tries to pass other vehicles that are driving slowly;
- Driving at a steady speed, not one that requires a driver to speed up and slow down;
- Driving at such a speed that it is possible to come to a controlled, gradual stop well within the visible range of sight, even in light slippery road conditions;
- Slowing down much more than usual for certain road obstacles, such as curves and hills;
Given that these standards will be difficult for a truck driver to meet, the safest course of conduct for a commercial trucker is likely to avoid driving at all in hazardous conditions. While this may be inconvenient, there is little question that it will also best preserve the safety of everyone on the road.
If you or a loved one have been injured because a tractor trailer did not use extreme caution while driving in hazardous conditions, you may have the right to recover money damages. For a free, no obligation consultation with an experienced Virginia truck accident attorney, please call Robert E. Byrne, Jr. at (434) 817-3100 or contact him by email at [email protected]. You will not owe a fee unless we recover money.