Middle Tennessee and especially Nashville were swept with sever weather yesterday afternoon. Two tractor trailers were blown over on I-40 near Briley Parkway. That reminded me of some Federal Regulations governing the operation of commercial vehicles in hazardous conditions.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration oversees the operation of tractor trailers and buses on Interstate highways. Its motto is
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is focused on reducing crashes, injuries, and fatalities involving large trucks and buses.
There are numerous regulations all enacted to safe guard the public. When a lawyer takes a case involving a wreck involving a tractor trailer or bus he first looks to those regulations to determine the duty or standards that both the driver and owner are to keep. In the past I have handled these types of cases and thus am familiar with the rules.
Hazardous conditions has its own set of rules. Section 392.14 states
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.
Did the truck drivers whose big rigs were blown over violate those standards? Probably not since the storm came up quickly. Fortunately no one appears to have been injured. However, should the drivers been on the lookout for the development of the hazardous conditions, absolutely. Why? Because as a professional tractor trailer driver they are held to a higher standard that the ordinary driver. They are to exercise EXTREME CAUTION in those conditions. A tractor trailer wreck is not just a big car wreck. These special rules apply for the protection of the public.