Syracuse, NY-A late-night crash involving a semi and pickup truck on the New York Thruway left an Onondaga County man with life-threatening injuries Wednesday and forced the closure of all but one lane of the interstate for hours.
The accident occurred around 11:00 p.m. on Wednesday, February 7, 2018, in the westbound lanes when a tractor-trailer struck a pickup truck.
New York State Police told New York Upstate.com that a 34-year-old man from Onondaga County suffered life-threatening injuries and had to be flown to a nearby hospital.
The truck driver was also injured but not seriously.
New York State Police are still investigating the cause of the crash.
Police had to close the westbound lanes of I-90 for a few hours.
Several inches of snow fell in Central New York on Wednesday prompting authorities in Onondaga County to issue a travel advisory until 11:00 p.m. Officials said plow trucks were struggling to keep up with the rapid snowfall, so they warned drivers the roads could be treacherous long after the advisory ended.
While it is unclear at this time what caused the crash on the Thruway, the weather is a primary contributing factor in many truck accidents during the winter months. However, inclement weather is rarely the sole cause of a commercial trucking accident. According to Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, just three percent of commercial truck accidents are attributed to environmental factors including bad weather. Instead, most semi wrecks on snow-covered or icy roads occur because of the careless actions of a driver. The weather just makes it more likely that a trucker will lose control or collide with another auto if they are driving negligently.
What Are a Truck Driver’s Responsibilities in Bad Weather?
Truck drivers are usually on tight schedules, so they are often forced to drive in less than ideal weather. Many truckers have excellent driving skills and know how to navigate their vehicles on snow or ice-covered roads safely. Commercial drivers have a duty to take the weather into account and tailor their driving accordingly.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration says truck drivers and trucking companies should do the following to avoid causing an accident:
Use caution when traction and visibility are affected by snow, ice, smoke, fog or rain.
Adhere to traffic laws and local ordinance where they are operating their vehicle.
Speed should match conditions of the road to maintain traction.
Drive slowly when the roads are slippery.
When roads are treacherous, drivers can seek an “Adverse Driving Conditions” exemption of federal hours-of-service rules. The rule states:
“If unexpected adverse driving conditions slow you down, you may drive up to 2 extra hours to complete what could have been driven in normal conditions. This means you could drive for up to 13 hours, which is 2 hours more than allowed under normal conditions.”
Drivers are not allowed to operate beyond the 14th consecutive hour and must comply with the 30-hour rest period. If an operator decides to take the exemption, they must record it in their logbook.
Adverse driving conditions eligible for an exemption include:
Snowy and icy roads
Road closures because of an accident
If you are involved in a weather-related truck wreck, you may be entitled to compensation if you were injured or a loved one is killed. You should think about meeting with a truck accident lawyer in Syracuse, New York and discuss if you can recover economic damages.
Can a Trucking Company Be Liable for a Weather-Related Accident?
In most cases, a trucking company is going to distance themselves from the truck driver putting most of the blame on them. They will point to an individual’s actions and deny any responsibility for a weather-related trucking accident. However, trucking companies may be considered liable under certain circumstances:
Forcing a trucker on the road when they feel it is unsafe. Transportation regulations instruct commercial drivers to use caution when operating in poor weather and cease when if conditions become dangerous. Trucking companies cannot force an employee to drive if they feel they could be involved in a collision or suffer serious injury, but many commercial drivers do because they are worried about being fired. A trucking company that forces an employee to drive even though they feel it is unsafe may be considered liable for your accident.
Failing to ensure tires and brakes are in good condition. It takes an 18-wheeler significantly longer to stop than a passenger vehicle on a good day, and even longer when a road is slick. A trucking company has a responsibility to make sure a truck’s braking system is working properly, and the tires have enough tread to provide the right amount of traction. When an accident is attributed to failing brakes or tires, a trucking company may be liable if they didn’t conduct the necessary repairs or replace worn tires.
Talk to a Truck Accident Lawyer in Syracuse
Tractor-trailers, tankers, dump trucks and other large commercial vehicles can leave victims with severe injuries and a mountain of medical bills. If you are recovering from injuries sustained in a trucking accident and want legal advice, you can find experienced legal counsel at USAttorneys.com. Reach out to one of our online operators, and they can refer your case to a truck accident lawyer located near you in Syracuse or surrounding areas. You can also use our state map if you prefer to browse online. You need an ally during this difficult time and you need someone to guide you through the process of filing a personal injury or wrongful death claim.