Federal Regulations and the Smith System Prevent Dust Storm Truck Accidents

- Mark Caruso

New Mexico Trucking Accidents During Dust Storms can be Prevented by Complying with Federal Regulations and the Smith System of Defensive Driving

Large commercial trucks, tankers, flatbeds, 18-wheelers, semis, big rigs, and other large trucks are all very dangerous vehicles.  New Mexico trucking accidents are some of the most devastating accidents out there.  This is true no matter what type of roadway they are on, be it either small local roads or interstate highways.  These large truck vehicles get even more dangerous during dust storms which limit visibility and cause other  problems on the roadway.  This is why federal regulations require large commercial trucks to slow down as reasonable or stop in dust storms.  Further, the Smith System of Defensive Driving teaches students to always aim high on the roadway and look down the road, while also visualizing the entire roadway and ensuring others can see you.

When large commercial truck drivers fail to comply with the federal regulations and fail to adhere the the preached principles in the Smith System of Defensive Driving, people get hurt or killed.  Here at the Caruso Law Offices, P.C., we are representing the estate of a victim killed in a New Mexico trucking accident occurring on Interstate 10 during an ongoing dust storm.  Three large commercial trucks continued to plow down the interstate at a high rate of speed despite not being able to see in the dust storm.  Three passenger vehicles reduced speed as reasonable under the circumstances, and were inevitably rear ended by the truck drivers which continued at full speed.  This caused a large pileup accident, an explosion, and a fatal fire which killed seven passengers; none of the truck drivers were hurt.

If you or a loved one were involved in a similar type of New Mexico trucking accident, contact the experienced trucking accident attorneys are the Caruso Law Offices, P.C. by calling (505) 883-5000.  We will fight for your rights and work hard to get you the maximum amount of compensation you are entitled to—including at trial.  Like the present trial, who burned to death in a trapped motor vehicle and left an entire family which relied on him without a father, we will work zealously and diligently in representing you.

Federal Regulations Require Truck Drivers To Slow Down or Stop in Dust Storms When Visibility is Limited

Trucking is largely interstate, meaning it effects multiple states.  This makes it hard to govern conduct because each state’s laws may be slightly different.  This is why there are federal regulations which set a baseline standard throughout the country, which states may add protections to but usually just keep compliance with the federal regulations.  These regulations are the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations, known as the FMCSR.

The FMCSR promulgated safety regulations which apply in dust storms. Dust storms are very serious weather conditions which create a significant number of New Mexico trucking accidents.  The federal regulations realize this and require “extreme caution” in these conditions.  This is addressed by FMCSR section 392.14, which governs hazardous conditions requiring extreme caution, and provides the following:

“Extreme caution in the operation of a commercial motor vehicle shall be exercised when hazardous conditions, such as those caused by . . . dust, or smoke, adversely affect visibility or traction. Speed shall be reduced when such conditions exist. If conditions become sufficiently dangerous, the operation of the commercial motor vehicle shall be discontinued and shall not be resumed until the commercial motor vehicle can be safely operated.”

As you can see from the regulation, it requires large commercial truck drivers to slow down in dust storms which effect visibility.  When the dust storm becomes to dangerous to continue, truck drivers must stop—not speed up or maintain speed like they did in our case.  The reasons are obvious.  If the trucks did slow down, there would have been no accident killing out client.

Smith System of Defensive Driving Prevents Trucking Accidents in Dust Storms

The Smith System of Defensive Driving is a separate system which is not mandatory, but it should be.  All drivers, especially large commercial truck drivers, should take this course.  In essence, the course pushes five main points which are all relevant in dust storms and prevent New Mexico trucking accidents.  They are the following:

  1. Aim High in Steering, meaning look further down the road at what hazards exist—not just directly in front;
  2. Look at the Big Picture of the Road, meaning know what is around your vehicle, including ahead, behind, and to the sides;
  3. Keep Your Eyes Constantly Moving, meaning do not zone out and keep focusing;
  4. Leave Yourself an Out, meaning do not box yourself in and always have a safe spot to turn to; and
  5. Make Sure Other Motorists Around You Can See You, meaning ensure others know where you are and what you are doing at all times.

In dust storms, visibility can be greatly limited.  This means that the Smith System would require drivers to take certain precautions to avoid serious New Mexico trucking accidents.  All of the principles in the Smith System relate to vision and visibility, demonstrating how important this sense is.  When visibility is limited or narrowed to nothing in a dust storm, drivers must slow down to regain their visibility and reaction time or stop traveling all together.

Federal Regulations and the Smith System Would Have Saved Our Client’s Life, and They Could Save Your Life too!

If a loved one has been seriously injured or killed in a New Mexico trucking accident, contact the experienced trucking accident attorneys at the Caruso Law Offices, P.C. today by dialing (505) 883-5000.  You can also contact us on our website through the easy to use and convenient Contact box located by clicking here.