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Safety Rules for Commercial Vehicle Operation Part 3

I’m Katelyn Holub, an attorney focusing on personal injury law in northwest Indiana.

Welcome to Personal Injury Primer, where we break down the law into simple terms, provide legal tips, and discuss personal injury law topics.

As noted in our last two podcasts, we often are faced with the need to educate people serving on a jury about the safety rules governing commercial motor vehicles.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations set out the rules for commercial vehicle operation.

Our first podcast noted that the regulations apply to all motor carriers. Which is any person who owns or leases a commercial motor vehicle.

In part 2, we defined a motor carrier employee as any individual who directly affects commercial motor vehicle safety, including independent contractors hired to drive and mechanics working on the vehicles.

In this third podcast, we focus on the requirement of commercial drivers to exercise extreme caution when the roadway presents hazardous conditions.

This is a big deal. Unlike drivers of cars and other private vehicles, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations at part 392.14 calls for extreme caution when a commercial motor vehicle driver encounters hazardous conditions, such as snow, ice, sleet, fog, mist, rain, dust, or smoke, that adversely affect visibility or traction.

Extreme caution may mean that speed must be drastically reduced when hazardous conditions exist, or extreme caution may mean that commercial vehicle operation is discontinued and not resumed until the commercial motor vehicle can be safely operated.

In practice, if the roads are wet and slippery for cars, drivers will slow down a little. In most cases, car drivers will not slow down nearly enough, but they at least slow down.

Heavy commercial vehicles cannot deal with slippery conditions as well as lightweight cars. The stopping distance may be doubled for heavy trucks when the roads are wet. Slowing from 55 mph to 35 mph may be necessary for trucks, and speed may need to be reduced even further on packed snow to meet the extreme caution requirement.

In our next podcast, part 4, we will focus on the requirement of commercial drivers to scan the roadway ahead to keep a lookout for other vehicles on the highway.

The requirement to keep a lookout ahead differs from the average car driver’s expectations.

I hope you found this information helpful. If you are a victim of someone’s carelessness, substandard medical care, a product defect, work injury, or another personal injury, please call (219) 736-9700 with your questions. You can also learn more about us by visiting our website at DavidHolubLaw.com – while there, make sure you request a copy of our book “Fighting for Truth.”