It is often said that the month of March comes in like a lion and out like a lamb. For residents of northwestern Pennsylvania, though, the entire month may feel like an endurance test regarding bad weather. March weather in Erie can bring anything from blizzard conditions to sleet, hail, ice, fog, rain and even flooding. While the unpredictable weather is not going away, neither are those who must travel local roads each day in semi-trucks and other commercial vehicles. In order for drivers of big rigs to avoid
in such weather, there are many precautions they must take in order to drive responsibly.
First, it is important for all drivers to know how wet weather affects area roads. While many drivers likely know rain negatively affects the friction of the pavement, thereby creating a need for a greater stopping distance, it also reduces visibility distance. Precipitation can also cause lane obstruction, either through vehicles stopped on the road, flooding on the pavement or debris from a storm or accident. To avoid an 18-wheeler accident, drivers must be vigilant and attentive regarding their own lanes and those around them.
One of the main impacts of precipitation on traffic is that it not only slows vehicles down, but also creates a greater speed variance. Not every driver, unfortunately, will heed nature's warning and decrease their speed, but most will. Thus, rainy roads often feature a mix of vehicle speeds, with most slowing down but some going too fast for conditions, which is a form of negligence. For truck drivers in particular, their massive vehicles require a large stopping distance even in the best of weather. When it is rainy, a negligent truck driver can cause catastrophe by not slowing down.
There are additional things a driver can do to avoid a semi-truck accident. Drivers can keep both headlights and tail lights on to heighten visibility. They can focus on remaining alert and free of distractions, especially those that take one's eyes off the road or hands off the wheel. Finally, drivers can be especially attentive to speed and stopping distance at the start of a rainstorm, when the risk of hydroplaning is strongest.
Source: DOT.gov, "
How do weather events impact roads?
," accessed on March 6, 2015