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Winter Weather is Here – Please Use Extreme Caution

December 12, 2011

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Waking up to winter snow and icy roads this week requires us to reverse engineer our rush, rush, rush mentality of driving from one place to another.  Instead, we must plan ahead, check weather reports, and allow for more driving time to prevent the costly mistakes of traveling too fast when road conditions require a more modest speed.

The Code of Federal Regulations 49 CFR Part 392.14 mandates that truck drivers use “extreme caution” when encountering hazardous conditions on our roadways.  “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.”   It is recommended that speed be reduced or travel be discontinued when such conditions exist.

All drivers, not just truck drivers, should use extreme caution when road conditions are less than ideal.  You are responsible for the safe operation of your own vehicle.  The Ohio Commercial Drivers License Handbook provides the following safety tips that can be used by all motorists: don’t brake any harder than necessary; take curves slower; don’t brake while in curves; don’t hurry; avoid driving alongside other vehicles; don’t pass slower vehicles unless necessary; and, give plow trucks plenty of room.

Tire maintenance also directly correlates with safe vehicle operation under extreme weather conditions.  Tires should be checked for proper inflation, condition, and tread depth.   A driver's ability to control a vehicle is directly related to tire traction.  Before it gets much colder, take the time to check and adjust your tire inflation pressure.  At the same time, thoroughly examine the condition of your tires and the depth of your treads.

Likewise your ability to see is of the utmost important once the snow falls and your windshields become caked with salt spray.  Spending a few dollars to top off your windshield wiper fluid, and maybe even replacing or upgrading your old windshield wipers, will help you perceive hazards ahead.  Make sure you have a defroster that is working.  Try not to drive without first thoroughly cleaning and defrosting ice and snow off of your windshield, mirrors, and headlights.  Again, slow down, plan ahead, and take the time necessary to adequately prepare yourself and your vehicle for the changing weather.

It is not only better to be safe than is better to be late than sorry.  Your safety and the safety of those around you depend on your ability to drive in extreme weather.  This winter it matters for all of us to be reminded to use extreme caution.

Authored by: Trial Attorney / Truck Attorney - Andrew R. Young, Esq. – Class A CDL License

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