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Why is it Dangerous to Operate Tractors in Bad Weather Conditions?

Operating any vehicle during inclement weather can be extremely hazardous, but tractors and other large commercial and agricultural vehicles elevate the risk even more due to their size, weight, and limited maneuverability. In fact, tractors are one of the leading causes of accidental deaths on farms.

Due to the nature of the vehicle, tractor drivers are very exposed to the elements, which in itself is dangerous in poor conditions. In terms of operation, the time a driver has to effectively react to an impending accident is greatly decreased. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR), drivers must reduce their speed at least 1/3 percent in the rain, and 1/2 percent or more in the snow or other frozen conditions; and often this is not enough. With tractors specifically, this leaves the operator very vulnerable to falls from the driver’s seat (which is a prime cause for injury or death), not to mention other accidents with pedestrians or other vehicles.

Federal truck regulations by FMCSR call for CMV drivers to adjust their driving according to dangerous road conditions, poor visibility, and traction problems. Specifically, the United States Code of Federal Regulations gives the following stipulations:

“Extreme caution in the operation of a commercial motor vehicle shall be exercised when hazardous conditions, such as those caused by snow, ice, sleet, fog, mist, rain, 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.”

All that said, no absolute law governs the exact point when a driver must stop operating tractors, other agricultural vehicles or commercial trucks in bad weather conditions, which leaves precarious room for human misjudgment. If you have been injured in a tractor or CMV accident in Pennsylvania, contact a Pennsylvania truck accident lawyer for a review of your case.

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