New Virginia Law Would Limit Commercial Trucks During Bad Weather

It has been quite a stormy winter here in Virginia. The state has had several intense storms, including one in January that caused more than 1,000 vehicle accidents and left hundreds of commuters stranded on Route 95. There is no doubt that many of these victims are working with Virginia personal injury attorneys in order to ensure they receive the full financial compensation they are entitled in any car accident claims that have been filed.

Many of us remember the photos and videos taken during that January storm of jackknifed tractor-trailers spread all the way down a 40-mile stretch on I-95 and the multiple vehicles crashed into each other as a result. While there is no way to control the weather, Virginia lawmakers have come up with a bill that they say would help minimize the risk of bad weather driving accidents, especially on roads where many large commercial trucks travel.

Under the proposed law, all commercial motor vehicles would be restricted to the right-hand lane during active snow, sleet, or freezing rain on all Virginia highways with two or more lanes in each direction.

The bill also restricts truckers from using cruise control or compression brakes during winter storms.

The bill, which was introduced in January, has already passed the Senate and is expected to be voted on by the House of Delegates within the next several weeks.

What Is a Commercial Truck?

A commercial truck is a massive vehicle that is used to transport commercial products. In order to operate a commercial truck, the driver is required to obtain a commercial driver’s license. Some of the types of vehicles that fall into this category include tractor-trailers, 18-wheelers, cement trucks, tanker trucks, and delivery trucks.

There are a great number of regulations put in place by both federal and state governments, because of the size of these vehicles, as well as what they are used for. One example is the number of hours a commercial truck driver is allowed to operate each day and how many days in a row they are allowed to drive. Drivers are also required to keep a log or electronic record of the number of hours spent on the road.

Trucking companies are required to carry a large amount of insurance on each vehicle. If the commercial truck will be transporting hazardous materials, then the insurance requirement can be in the millions.

Another difference with commercial trucks is that these vehicles utilize an air brake system, which if used correctly, can help prevent jackknifing accidents or sliding. Used incorrectly can cause issues with controlling the truck, steering, and stopping.

Jackknifing and Commercial Truck Accidents

While any vehicle accident can be serious, a Virginia truck accident attorney knows that accidents involving commercial trucks are often severe. All of the differences mentioned above can come into play if there is a truck accident and a victim is injured or killed.

Jackknifing – which is what happened to dozens of trucks during the January storm – is one of the deadliest situations for commuters. When a tractor-trailer skids, the trailer can swing out to one side, which forms an angle that looks like a jackknife blade. If this occurs because the truck was speeding, then there is a high probability that the truck will roll over, potentially causing catastrophic damages.

Jackknifing often occurs when a truck is traveling in slippery or wet weather road conditions, causing the vehicle’s wheels to lock up, however, this is often because of some type of negligence on the truck driver’s part. For example, if the truck driver is driving in wet weather and they do not adjust how they are driving, then the driver is running a high risk of a dangerous jackknife accident.

Call Our Virginia Personal Injury Firm for Help

If you have been injured in any type of truck accident, contact Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp to discuss what legal recourse you may have. Truck accident cases can be complex, and it is not uncommon for there to be multiple at-fault parties who are responsible for the payment of financial damages you may be entitled to for your injuries. Call our office today to schedule a free and confidential consultation with one of our dedicated Virginia truck accident attorneys. Our personal injury firm has successfully represented many injured victims and their families, and we are happy to meet with you and offer legal guidance on what the best options may be for your circumstances.

For more information about truck accidents in Virginia, please download our free guide.