Safety Regulations And Adverse Weather

Any driver of any vehicle, much less trucks, knows that when the weather is bad extra precaution must be taken in the operation of the vehicle. This is especially true for large tractor-trailer trucks that are much heavier in weight and therefore more difficult to slow down. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations require that drivers of motor carriers use “extreme caution” in the operation of trucks during hazardous conditions such as those caused by snow, rain or any other weather event which adversely affects visibility or traction. Speed must be reduced when such conditions exist.

road on rainy day with vehiclesMost state Commercial Driver Licenses Manuals require that truck drivers slow down at least by one-third (⅓) of the posted speed limit in order to insure the safe operation of their heavy tractor-trailer rigs. Because it takes longer to stop and is harder to do so without skidding or losing control if it is raining or snowing, the driver must slow down from 55 to 35, as an example, on any wet road. On packed snow most commercial drivers’ manuals require that speed be reduced by half (½).

The motor carrier safety regulations are very important in helping to establish negligence of a truck driver who is speeding during adverse weather conditions. Even if a truck driver is traveling within the posted speed limit, he may still be in violation of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations because traveling at 55 miles per hour, which may be the posted speed limit in any particular area, may still be too fast for conditions and under the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations is too fast for conditions when the weather is adverse.

In any case involving adverse weather conditions, counsel should investigate very carefully whether excessive speed was involved and/or whether the driver and carrier used “extreme caution” for the safety of the motoring public. If not, a proven violation of these safety regulations can help to establish liability against the trucking company and its driver.


About Richard Hendrix

Richard W. Hendrix is a former state and federal prosecutor who has more than 30 years of experience in complex civil and criminal litigation. He has also served as a mediator in Alternative Dispute Resolutions (ADR).

Since joining Finch McCranie in 1985, Mr. Hendrix has built an extensive litigation practice focusing on wrongful death and serious personal injury cases as well as federal white collar criminal defense cases. He has successfully represented injured parties in personal injury cases throughout the state of Georgia. Mr. Hendrix has also effectively defended business and individuals, including a former US Congressman, against indictments and grand jury investigations. In 2006 and 2008-2012, he was selected to Georgia Super Lawyers.

He is admitted to practice in Georgia and South Carolina. Mr. Hendrix is licensed to appear before the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia and the District of South Carolina as well as the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, Fifth Circuit, and Eleventh Circuit.

From 1979-1985, Mr. Hendrix served as an Assistant United States Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia. He was also Associate Independent Counsel for the investigation of the Department of Housing and Urban Development from 1991-1992.

Mr. Hendrix graduated with cum laude honors from Davidson College and he received his law degree from Emory University. Since 1992, Mr. Hendrix has been an Adjunct Professor of Litigation at Georgia State University College of Law. He is also a Master of the Bench with the Lamar American Inn of Court where he works to enhance the professional, ethics and skills of the legal community.

Mr. Hendrix has also authored numerous articles including: “High Speed Police Chases and Injured Innocent By-Standers,” The Verdict (Summer, 2015) “Tolling the Statute of Limitations in Tort Cases for Victims of a Crime,” The Verdict (Fall, 2007); “A Refresher On the Federal Tort Claims Act,” The Verdict (Winter, 1999); “Rule 16 and the Jencks Act: A Need for Legal Reform,” Calendar Call (Winter, 1996); “Corporate Criminal Liability: The Need for Effective Compliance Programs,” South Carolina Lawyer (March/April, 1993); “Crossing State Lines in Wrongful Death Actions: Traps for the Unwary,” The Verdict (Fall, 1990); and “White Collar Crime: New Tools for Prosecution,” The Atlanta Lawyer (Summer, 1986)