What Hazards Should Truck Drivers Be Aware of During the Fall Season?

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Fall has officially arrived, which means that the leaves are changing from green to shades of red, orange, and yellow, the days are getting shorter, and the temperatures are starting to drop. Although these are the perfect conditions to go for a hike or an afternoon drive to admire the fall foliage, there are a number of driving hazards that are associated with the changing season. From wet leaves that have fallen from the trees onto the roads, to extreme sun glare, to an increased number of deer and other wildlife crossing the roads, these conditions can increase the risk of serious traffic accidents. These hazards can affect all motorists, including truck drivers, who should use extreme caution when driving during the fall, since any of these seasonal hazards can result in a devastating truck accident. If a motorist is seriously injured in a truck accident, he or she is urged to contact a skilled truck accident lawyer as soon as possible.

Why are Falling Leaves Dangerous?

People often associate slippery road conditions with snow, ice, and other weather-related hazards that occur during the winter. However, when there is an accumulation of leaves on the road, and rain causes the leaves to become wet, the blanket of wet leaves can become extremely slippery. The leaves can also completely cover the lane lines, making it difficult for drivers to stay in their lane. This can cause extremely hazardous driving conditions. In addition, if there is a drop in temperature and the wet leaves freeze, the conditions become even more hazardous, causing cars and trucks to skid and potentially having drivers lose control of their vehicle. When this happens to a large commercial truck, it can have devastating consequences for the truck driver and other motorists who are in the vicinity of the truck. Truck drivers should keep the following safety tips in mind when driving during the fall, particularly when approaching an area where there are leaves on the road:

  • Reduce driving speed, particularly when approaching a curve in the road, or when making a turn.
  • Truck drivers should give themselves a significant amount of road space to slow down, or come to a complete stop in an emergency, particularly when following another vehicle.
  • Wet leaves can make it difficult, if not impossible, to see potholes in the road. Using extra caution and reducing their driving speed can help truck drivers maintain control of the vehicle if they hit a pothole.
  • Truck drivers should never drive through a large leaf pile near the side of the road. Children often play in leaf piles or use them as hiding places. It is best to slow down and drive around the pile of leaves when there are children playing in the vicinity.
  • Windshields should be kept clean. Leaves can easily get stuck under the blades of the windshield wipers. Truck drivers should wipe away any leaves that may be stuck to the windshield before they start to drive. Leaves stuck to the windshield wiper blades can reduce visibility and increase the risk of a truck accident.
  • Truck drivers should never park their truck over a pile of dry leaves, as this can be a fire hazard from the exhaust system of the catalytic converter.

How Does the Change in Season Impact Road Safety During the Fall?

Fall is known for its crisp, sunny days, but there are plenty of days that are rainy, foggy, and wet. In addition, with the shorter days and the end of Daylight Saving Time around the corner, the sun will soon be setting during rush hour. One of the main hazards associated with this time of year is the increased risk of sun glare. This can impact a truck driver’s visibility, making it more difficult to see other motorists, as well as pedestrians and bicyclists. To avoid an accident related to sun glare, truck drivers are strongly urged to have their eyes checked regularly, keep their windshield clean and remove any leaves or debris, and keep a pair of sunglasses handy at all times.

Black ice is another hazard that is often associated with winter but can be a serious problem during the fall, particularly as truck drivers travel further north where the temperatures can get colder earlier. Black ice is a thin coating of ice on a road or bridge that is difficult to see. Wet leaves, puddles, and wet bridges can freeze overnight if the temperatures drop. Shaded areas can take longer to melt during the day, so the patches can remain frozen, causing a serious safety hazard to truck drivers and other motorists. Although the natural reaction to hitting a patch of ice is to hit the brakes, this can make the situation worse, and the driver can lose control of the vehicle. The most effective strategy is to remain calm and allow the vehicle to roll across the ice in a straight line if possible.

How Does Deer Season Impact Road Safety?

Deer are much more active during the fall season, particularly during dawn and dusk. That means that deer are more likely to cross the road during these times. This can be a serious hazard for truck drivers and other motorists, since deer often run across the road without any warning, causing motorists to slam on the brakes or swerve to avoid hitting the deer. This can cause serious accidents, particularly if there are also other road hazards involved as well, such as wet leaves, black ice, or sun glare. Truck drivers should take the following precaution to avoid hitting a deer:

  • Look for deer eye shine, particularly when driving through wooded areas where there are higher deer populations.
  • Do not exceed the speed limit or outdrive the reach of the truck’s headlights.
  • Pay attention to deer crossing signs and slow down.
  • If there is an animal in the road, slow down, keep the truck straight, and slowly apply the brakes to maintain control of the truck. This may not always prevent truck drivers from hitting a deer, but it will likely cause far less damage than if the truck driver swerved and risked overturning the truck.
  • If a driver sees one deer darting across the road, another deer may be close behind.

How Should Truck Drivers Prepare Their Vehicles for the Change in Season?

Truck drivers and truck companies have a responsibility to ensure that their vehicles are well maintained, and that the necessary repairs and adjustments are made for the change in season. As the cold weather approaches, it is important the following truck components and systems are checked so that the vehicle is in good working order:

  • Battery: In colder weather, batteries can drain more quickly. The battery should be checked to see if it is fully charged. The battery’s expiration date should be checked; if it has expired, the battery should be replaced.
  • Tire pressure: Cold weather can reduce the truck’s tire pressure. This can impact the tread life, fuel economy, and the truck driver’s safety. Valve caps should be used to prevent moisture build-up in the tire’s valve cores. Tires should be replaced when necessary.
  • Diesel fuel: Diesel fuel can turn waxy during cold weather, so it is recommended that truck drivers prevent this by using a fuel blend that has a high cetane rating and anti-gel additive whenever the tank is filled. Drivers should keep an emergency supply of this fuel in case of an extreme drop in temperature.
  • Cooling systems: The pressure coolant should be at 15-18 pounds per square inch (PSI) after turning on the heater control calves. The radiator cap should also be tested and kept at five PSI. During the inspection process, the heater and water hoses should be checked for wear and tear.
  • Engine block heater: This is recommended for truck drivers who have diesel-powered trucks and spend a significant amount of time driving during the cold weather. Diesel engines can be difficult to start when they are exposed to colder temperatures. An electric engine block heater can help.
  • Fuel filter and water separator: The water separator should be checked every day and drained when full. The fuel filter should also be replaced on a regular basis to ensure that the engine is running well in extreme weather conditions.
  • Air dryer: This keeps water out of the brake lines. If the air dryer is not working properly, the water can get into the brake lines and freeze. If the brakes are not working properly, this can cause serious problems on the road.

Baltimore Truck Accident Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Seek Justice for Victims of Weather-Related Truck Accidents

If you or someone you know was seriously injured in a truck accident during the fall season, do not hesitate to contact the Baltimore truck accident lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton. These devastating accidents can happen when you least expect it, particularly when the changing weather and other factors increase the risk of accidents this time of year. However, many of these accidents can be avoided if truck drivers take the appropriate safety precautions and make safety a top priority. We will conduct a thorough investigation of the accident and determine who is responsible for your injuries. Our skilled legal team will secure the maximum financial compensation you deserve. To schedule a free consultation, call us today at 800-547-4LAW (4529) or contact us online.

Our offices are conveniently located in BaltimoreColumbiaGlen Burnie, and Prince George’s County, where we represent victims throughout Maryland, including those in Anne Arundel CountyCarroll CountyHarford CountyHoward CountyMontgomery CountyPrince George’s CountyQueen Anne’s CountyMaryland’s Western CountiesSouthern Maryland and the Eastern Shore, as well as the communities of CatonsvilleEssexHalethorpeMiddle RiverRosedale, Gwynn OakBrooklandvilleDundalkPikesvilleParkvilleNottinghamWindsor MillLuthervilleTimoniumSparrows PointRidgewood, and Elkridge.