semi-truck in snowy conditions in MassachusettsWinter weather and snowstorms are on their way into Massachusetts and sharing snow covered roads with large trucks is inevitable. While commercial truck drivers are trained and must exhibit proficiency to be licensed to operate such large equipment, don’t forget, it’s still a human at the wheel.

If you find yourself traveling in snowy conditions this winter, remember that, statistically, large commercial trucks pose the greatest hazards on the highways. Whether it’s dangerous winter weather or the truck driver’s reaction to another vehicle on the roadway, truck accidents can cause severe and sometimes fatal physical injuries. There are some tips you can follow to protect yourself if you have to share the roads and highways with large semi-tractor trailers this winter.

Trucking Accidents Are a Serious Risk in Winter Weather

According to the latest statistics of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), in 2019, there were approximately 510,000 police-reported crashes involving large trucks. The FMCSA also reported that out of these large truck crashes, there were 4,479 fatal crashes and 114,000 injury crashes. These numbers reportedly increased from 2018.

There are more large trucks on the road now than ever before. If you’ve traveled the Massachusetts highways (I-95, I-93, I-495) lately, you’ve shared the road with large commercial trucks. With our office in Framingham, Massachusetts, we have helped many injury victims recover compensation from truck accident on the Massachusetts Turnpike, which runs right through Natick and Framingham and other highways. The many large commercial trucks transporting goods and items during the holiday season increase the chances of being involved in a serious accident with a truck.

While it is best to stay off the roadways during winter storms, sometimes this can’t be avoided. We all have responsibilities and obligations that now and then force us to have to travel in winter storms. Likewise, commercial truck drivers also have obligations to transport and make deliveries that may influence them to travel in dangerous winter weather. Many truck drivers are under tight deadlines and in some cases may have incentives to complete their route as fast as possible. This results in having to share the roads and highways in Massachusetts with these large tractor trailers and other commercial trucks even in hazardous winter conditions.

Truck Accident Attorney Tips for Safe Travels on Massachusetts' Winter Highways

Ask any personal injury attorney which motor vehicle accident category causes the most severe injuries and I’m sure most will say large commercial truck crashes. The pure size of the semi-tractor trailers compared to the typical passenger vehicle and speed on the highways are obvious reasons for their answers. Understanding the risk of trucking accidents this winter and serious injuries, you should be aware of and follow some of our Massachusetts truck accident tips and techniques when driving in hazardous conditions on the roadways and highways in Massachusetts.   

  1. Slow down and drive for the conditions of the road. This may seem like a no-brainer but most accidents occur because of a failure to adjust speed according to road conditions. Lack of traction demands you reduce your speed to maintain control. You will also have more time to react, should it be necessary.
  2. Don’t travel alongside semi’s, tractor trailers or other large commercial trucks. In my book, Massachusetts Truck Accidents: The Guide To Handling Your Commercial Truck Injury Case, I talk about the “kill zone” which is that area directly parallel to a commercial truck. That area is referred to as the kill zone because most often truck drivers cannot see you alongside them. Traveling in the kill zone under hazardous conditions means you’re hoping the truck driver is going to maintain control of his vehicle. Should he slide or skid due to road conditions you’re in a very vulnerable position. Remember, the truck has brakes and steering, the trailer does not.
  3. Pay attention to tire spray. This is one of the most important, yet overlooked, winter driving hazard. If you are attempting to pass a large commercial vehicle under hazardous conditions, you must be aware that at any moment the truck can immediately blind you with spray off the tires. If you are approaching the commercial vehicle with the intention to pass and notice that water and snow are spraying to the point you cannot see ahead of you, back off and wait until it is safe to do so. If you find that tire spray is minimal but the roadway is still dangerous, that could mean conditions are beginning to freeze.
  4. When the temperature plunges, even the most experienced of truckers can have a hard time managing icy snowy roads. Poor visibility coupled with reduced traction makes the job of operating a large tractor trailer unit extremely challenging. Leave plenty of room and use common sense when traveling along with commercial vehicles. Traffic seems to move in “packs” on the highway. Find a safe way to get away from the pack and travel alone, the goal being to maximize the distance around your vehicle.

Take Legal Action Immediately After a Trucking Accident in Massachusetts

We often hear our client tell us they want to recuperate for a few days before talking to us. The most important thing you can do after an accident with a tractor trailer or commercial vehicle is get our Massachusetts truck accident attorneys involved right away. 

Trucking companies are well prepared for trucking accident emergencies. After an accident the truck and trailer may be towed to a local tow yard but the trucking company will make arrangements for the vehicle to be brought immediately to a facility, sometimes far out of state. If you want to inspect and preserve the condition of the commercial vehicle that caused the accident you have to move fast. 

Also, trailers are often owned and operated by a company not associated with the truck pulling it. I have seen so many cases where the trailer is owned by one company and maintained by another company. If you don’t get ownership of the trailer established right at the beginning, you may have an uphill climb trying to get that information months later. 

Trucking companies are notorious for having adjusters and/or investigators dispatched immediately after an accident to get as much information that’s supports their defense. Fortunately, we also have investigators that can hit the ground conducting an investigation, collecting witness statements, damage photographs and so on.

I urge you to get a free copy of my book, Massachusetts Truck Accidents: The Guide To Handling Your Commercial Truck Injury Case. It can be downloaded to your computer, and it will give you insight into the complexities of truck accident litigation.

When the storms come, and they will, try and stay in the comfort of you home. But if you must go out use common sense. Don’t try to out drive the conditions.

Joseph M. Mahaney
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Injury lawyer serving car, truck, and motorcycle accident victims in Webster and Framingham, Massachusetts.
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