Seeing tractor trailers fly through rain or ice makes some folks wonder if truckers ever get taught how to drive in these conditions. Well, here’s the answer: they do. Driving like a maniac in bad weather not only endangers the public, it breaks trucker safety rules, as explained by the 2015 South Carolina Commercial Driver’s License Manual.
The manual explains the mechanical risk created by slick road surfaces: loss of traction. Traction is friction, which creates grip between tires and the road. When traction is lost, a vehicle—even a massive truck—will slide as freely across the road as a bowling ball flying down the alley.
Why Slick Roads Are Lethal…and What Truckers Do About It
Wet or icy roads make it harder to stop and turn without skidding. In fact, wet roads can double stopping distance, which is already longer than you think.
When the manual says slow down, it means it:
- On wet roads, reduce speed by about one third.
- On packed snow, reduce speed by half or more.
- On ice, slow down to a crawl and stop as soon as soon as it’s safe.
To prevent semi-trailer wrecks, truckers always have to look out for wet or icy surfaces.
Eagle Eye: Truckers Must Scan for Slippery Surfaces
The manual provides some tips about dangerous situations that could cause a deadly crash:
- Just after rain starts. Surprisingly, this is a dangerous time because water mixes with oil on the road. A sustained rainfall washes the oil away. Until then, it’s worse than an oil slick.
- Shady areas. These stay icy after other areas melt. An 18-wheeler going from a dry patch to an iced-over shaded area at high speed is like dropping a lit match in a can of fresh gasoline.
- Bridges. These freeze before roads do. The manual warns truckers to be especially careful when temperatures fall near freezing. Tractor-trailer wrecks on bridges are horrific disasters.
- Melting ice. Wet ice is way more slippery. Truckers must not be led astray when the temperature rises just above freezing; patches of wet ice can still be common.
- The most treacherous of all: black ice. This can be the most lethal danger on the road, because it’s hidden. Black ice is a thin layer that truckers can see through. It just looks like wet road. Ignoring this threat can cause a deadly highway disaster from a tractor-trailer spinning out of control. The manual instructs truckers to look out for black ice when it’s below freezing and the road seems wet.
Don’t Be Left Out in The Cold
Big-rig crashes can be caused by a variety of factors. Shockingly, that includes brake failure. Regardless of the cause, the insurance company will work harder to avoid paying for your injuries than the trucker and his trucking company worked to protect your safety. If you’ve been hurt in an 18-wheeler wreck, check out our free report about car crash cases that includes a special section on these crashes. You can also check out the other articles on our website, and if you want to tell us your story, you can call us at 864-582-0416 or toll free at 888-230-1841, or start a live chat wherever you are.