The commercial trucking industry has a great responsibility: to transport goods from manufacturing and production centers to end users. Truckers do not get to choose road or weather conditions when they make their runs; driving in bad weather represents just one of the many risks the trucking industry faces on a daily basis. Just as insurance like semi truck coverage is an important part of risk management, so too is preparing truck drivers for handling inclement weather no matter where it strikes. This risk management strategy allows for the efficient and continued delivery of cargo across the country.
Inclement Weather: Challenges on the Road for Truckers
Severe weather conditions are a risky proposition for any road user, including commercial truckers. Reduced visibility and increased stopping distances due to reduction in road traction are some of the effects of inclement weather on trucking operations. In fact, semi truck drivers may experience greater effects from inclement weather than other road users. This weather can appear at any time and may produce a wide range of effects, including:
- High winds
- Heavy rain
- Snow and ice accumulation
- Fog and misting
Commercial truckers know that fully-loaded vehicles may weigh in excess of 80,000 pounds; on dry road surfaces, stopping distances are substantially higher than for passenger cars and light trucks. Adding in harsh weather conditions like rain or snow can increase stopping distances dramatically. High winds also create issues for high-sided commercial cargo trucks; wind buffeting can make heavy trucks harder to control and to maintain lane position. If an accident were to happen between a trucker and another road user during a weather event, semi truck coverage helps to provide financial protection for any property damage, cargo losses, or injuries that may occur.
One other risk factor for trucking companies to consider is this: drivers may be reluctant to slow down or stop during severe weather events for fear of being late to deliver their cargo. This fear creates unnecessary and wholly avoidable risks, not only for truckers, trucks, and cargo, but for other road users. Protecting property and people is far more important that being on time with a cargo delivery.
Regulations Governing Trucks During Severe Weather Events
The chances of an expensive accident are only part of the risk exposures trucking companies face in inclement weather. There are also regulatory considerations. For example, Federal Motor Carrier Safety regulations mandate that truckers must reduce speed in severe weather; failure to do so could result in significant penalties and even the loss of a truck operator’s driving license. Very poor road conditions, including high winds, snow or ice, and heavy rain may require truckers to pull over to the side of the road until conditions improve. This practice is also mandated by regulations, and again, the penalties for violating these regulations can be steep.
Trucking Risk Management in Inclement Weather
Trucking companies and their employees have several important responsibilities in their operations. Primarily, these responsibilities are to transport goods efficiently and to also conduct operations in a safe manner. A crash can cause significant financial losses, not to mention the high potential for severe injuries or even deaths of truckers and other road users. To carry out trucking responsibilities, trucking companies must implement risk management practices into all areas of the operation. Risk management for trucking operations in inclement weather include:
- Providing regular safety training and retraining programs for truckers, focusing on aspects of safe operations when road conditions are less than favorable.
- Mandating adherence to regulatory guidelines concerning travel speeds and following distances in severe weather.
- Monitoring weather information and planning routes to avoid inclement weather if possible.
- Conducting pre-driving inspections of vehicles and equipment. These safety checks are required by law, and spotting problems may help to prevent collisions in inclement weather.
- Ensuring that trucks are equipped with specialized safety equipment, including tire chains for vehicles that may experience snow or ice on their routes.
- Regularly reviewing insurance policies, including semi truck coverage, to ensure they are up to date and reflect the risk exposures companies and their employees face. This can be a good time to fill coverage gaps in insurance plans as well.
Severe weather driving is a perpetual risk for trucking companies across the country. By taking the steps necessary to reduce or eliminate some of the risks associated with inclement weather, truckers can continue to perform their vital work in a safer manner for all road users.
About Gain Insurance Agency
Gain Insurance Agency protects trucking businesses against liabilities and claims in the industry. We combine products provided by respected insurance providers with our expertise and custom packages to meet customers’ individual needs. Our goal is to give you the coverage that you need at the lowest possible price. To learn more about our products and services, contact us today at (877) 424-3344.