When you drive an 18-wheeler for a living, you can quickly get too comfortable behind the wheel. You may have even exceeded the posted speed limit a time or two. Maybe you took a curve a bit too fast and were instantly reminded just how crucial it is to pay attention to the road conditions and make the necessary adjustments when needed. After all, your truck can't just stop on a dime, not to mention the fact that it's enormous and heavy.
You more than likely don't set out to drive too fast for the road conditions, but the monotony of your job can take over and cause you to relax a bit too much. You know better than to drive faster than the truck can safely handle. Even so, that hasn't stopped the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration from publishing some tips regarding driving too fast for road conditions.
Under what conditions should trucks slow down?
The FMCSA outlines circumstances in which truck drivers should slow down to reduce the risk of an accident. Most of the information seems like common sense, but the agency feels that certain situations happen often enough to provide the following advice to truck drivers:
- Slow down for inclement weather. Rain, snow and ice all make the roads hazardous for passenger vehicles, let alone 18-wheelers.
- Slow down for traffic conditions. As you already know, traffic patterns can change rapidly, and if you are going too fast, you may not be able to respond in time to avoid a collision.
- Slow down on curves. The center of gravity on a semitrailer is high, which means that you could easily lose control on a curve if traveling too fast.
- Slow down when exiting or entering a highway. Entrance and exit ramps can have steep curves in them. A passenger car may be able to safely take a curve at the posted speed limit for the ramp, but a truck should more than likely go even slower.
- Slow down when carrying a full load. Again, the weight makes stopping or making sudden maneuvers dangerous.
- Slow down in roadwork zones. Speed limits often drop in these zones anyway, and all drivers need to be aware of the potential for sudden stops, lane changes and other dangers.
Speed limits mean little under these conditions, let alone driving above the posted speed limits. You could endanger yourself and everyone else on the road if you ignore the road conditions and drive too fast. More than likely, you know this and do what you can to ensure that it doesn't happen.
If you are in an accident
When truck drivers are involved in traffic accidents, many people assume that it is the truck driver's fault. They come after you, your employer and the insurance company claiming that you were somehow reckless. In addition to simply being unfair, that assumption is wrong more often than people know. Many cases turn out to be the fault of another driver.
If you are in an accident, you need to inform your employer the insurance company immediately. Gathering the relevant facts and evidence as quickly as possible is just part of protecting you, your employer and your insurance company from costly and time-consuming litigation. Furthermore, establishing that you were not responsible could keep the accident from jeopardizing your CDL and your future employment.