Last year, a multi-year drought came to a spectacular end in the wake of a powerful atmospheric river drenching the state. But afterwards, the state dried up during one of the hottest summers on record. The ensuing wildfire season is California’s most destructive ever. All this has led to the creation of hazards waiting for the right conditions to fully present themselves. As 2018 begins with new rainstorms, those hazards have been involved with numerous serious incidents. Mudslides in areas ravaged by wildfires have devastated areas that have yet to recover. The roads have seen several big rig truck accidents, occasionally with fatal consequences.
Truck accidents snarl traffic on major freeways in Southern California and the Central Valley
A truck accident just south of Tracy blocked off northbound I-5 on January 9th. Eight passenger cars and one semi-truck were involved. The driver of a sedan was killed when the semi crushed the vehicle. While the cause remains under investigation, a CHP officer offered an often-repeated warning to drivers: watch your distance on the freeway, particularly during rainy and windy conditions.
Another truck accident in Lathrop involved two big rigs overturning on Interstate 5. Both the northbound and southbound lanes were affected as crews struggled to clear the road. Rain has been named as a clear factor in the accident.
Freeways are frequently the site of many trucking incidents during storms. A combination of winds and rain affects visibility, giving truck drivers little time to react to mistakes by other drivers. Worse still, the size and weight of big rig trucks means that slowing or stopping to avoid other vehicles can be nearly impossible in some circumstances. Even if a driver does react in time, a slippery road can still make it difficult for a truck to avoid other cars in an emergency.
Powerful winds have hit the entire state, with parts of Southern California seeing gusts exceeding 70 mph. If the wind is strong enough, a big rig truck can topple over while on the go, even with a fully loaded trailer in tow.
Staying safe on the road before truck accidents happen
Paying attention while driving is an obvious tip. However, with the rain drivers must be more alert than ever. No matter how fast you can react to a situation on the road, the rain affects braking distance. Even if you see a hazard right in front of your car, you may not be able to stop in time.
The rain also affects things as simple as a lane change. Cars can hydroplane on a road surface if enough water is available. This loss of control is responsible for many accidents. As a result, the CHP frequently issues warnings when weather conditions become potentially dangerous.
With semis, adverse conditions can be even more dangerous. These heavy vehicles take much longer to stop, and with rain that stopping is magnified. Big trucks are also nowhere near as nimble as a small passenger car. A sudden swerve to avoid a reckless driver is one of the potential causes of many truck accidents; a big-rig towing a fully loaded trailer can easily block off entire freeways if they tip over.
Other drivers must respect the size of these big trucks, and they also must be aware that truck drivers do not have the same visibility. Modern trucks still have blind spots despite advances in technology, and those blind spots can prove fatal on the road.
Staying alert after an accident
If you are in a truck accident, or are witness to one, it is important to try and remain calm. Should the accident occur on a busy road or freeway, it can be almost as dangerous to leave your vehicle as it is to stay in it. Just as you should be aware of your surroundings while driving, you must stay aware and alert after an accident.
First ensure that you’re safe. Then, if it is possible, try to get as much information about the accident as you can. An attentive witness can help the police investigating the circumstances surrounding the crash. If you’ve been injured in the accident and need a personal injury lawyer, a detailed account can go a long way towards winning your case.
The rainy season is bringing relief to California in the wake of a harsh summer, and devastating wildfires. However, it also means the commute to and from work can be more dangerous. The rain means that truck drivers, potentially overworked and under great stress, have yet another factor outside of their control.