Commercial Drivers: Reduce Speed for Safety

truck-driving-winterDriving too fast for conditions is defined as traveling at a speed that is greater than a reasonable standard for safe driving.The Large Truck Crash Causation Study (LTCCS) reported that 23 percent of large-truck crashes occurred when Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV) drivers were traveling too fast for conditions.

Adjust your speed to safely match weather conditions, road conditions, visibility, and traffic. Excessive driving speed is a major cause of fatal crashes,  and higher speeds may cause more severe crashes. The Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) recently reported that 25 percent of speeding-related large-truck fatalities occurred during adverse weather conditions.

Did You Know? You should reduce your speed by 1/3 on wet roads and by 1/2 or more on snow packed roads (i.e., if you would normally be traveling at a speed of 60 mph on dry pavement, then on a wet road you should reduce your speed to 40 mph, and on a snow-packed road you should reduce your speed to 30 mph). When you come upon slick, icy roads you should drive slowly and cautiously and pull off the road if you can no longer safely control the vehicle.

Did You Know? When it first starts to rain, water mixes with oil on the road making it particularly slippery.

Did You Know? Manufacturers generally advise drivers not to use a retarder [also called a “Jake” brake] on wet or slippery roadway conditions. In fact, a Safety Board Investigation of a motor coach crash that occurred in Canon City, Colorado, in December 1999, revealed that an enabled retarder most likely triggered the loss of control and eventual crash of the motor coach on a snow-covered and mountainous roadway.

An example of a driver traveling too fast for conditions is shown in the video clip below. Training exercise questions follow the video clip. 

VIDEO DESCRIPTION: The CMV driver is traveling on a multi-lane highway on wet pavement at night. Traffic is heavy and moving slowly. The driver is inattentive and traveling too fast for conditions. Traffic slows as the driver passes an emergency vehicle on the side of the road and the driver has to brake quickly to avoid hitting the lead vehicle.

TRAINING EXERCISE: After viewing the video, try to answer the following questions:

    • Did the driver adjust his vehicle’s speed considering the traffic, road, and weather conditions?
    • What caused the driver to brake excessively?
    • What could the driver have done differently?
The above is an excerpt from the article, “Too Fast for Conditions.” For more information, please visit www.fmcsa.dot.gov.

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