As winter storms rage on and infrastructure improvement projects face delays, many roads are seeing increases in accidents that ultimately lead to closures. Because of this, transportation experts are urging truckers to stay mindful and cautious at all times and follow all road signage and avoid areas with dangerous weather conditions, regardless of how inconvenient it may be to their trips.
For instance, a large snowstorm caused a high number of roadway incidents after hitting the mid-Atlantic region this month, blocking traffic on Interstate 95 along the 50 mile distance between Washington and Richmond.
During afternoon rush hour, snow levels hit unexpected highs and freezing temperatures caused Virginia interstate roadways to freeze over, bringing about a heavy gridlock for hundreds of drivers and truckers for nearly an entire day. After damaged vehicles were finally cleared from the highway, the interstate reopened the following evening.
Fredericksburg, Virginia-based trucking company Bully Breed Logistics had a trucker stuck in the highway shutdown while attempting to return from a delivery in Wilmington, Delaware.
“We tried to deliver…they said that they couldn’t take it,” said the owner of the company, Jeremy Slovak. “So, we had to drive back with that load.”
Because of this, the Bully Breed driver was forced to sleep in his truck smack in the middle of Interstate-95 around 30 miles north of Fredericksburg. Luckily, he ended up able to take an exit once a slow crawl began on Tuesday; still, the incident made for quite a bit of wasted money–and time–for the tiny carrier.
“I’ve got to pay my driver for that [time],” said Slovak. “I’ve got to pay for the fuel for that. Then, the cold and the ice and the salt…they cause a lot of problems for the trucks–maintenance, wear and tear.”
In fact, for a shipment of rolled paper, the total losses in revenue will likely reach $10,000 for the issues caused by this storm, Slovak noted.
“It hurts real bad,” he lamented. “I’m having to go into my reserves–my little nest egg–for repairs and stuff that I have, just to make sure my guys are paid. If I have the money, I’ll pay my guys, even though they’re staying home. It’s not their fault. They’ve got families to feed.“
Slovak’s driver was lucky enough to be paying close enough attention to take an exit as soon as possible, even after getting stuck in such a long snow-caused backup. Still, some truckers haven’t been quite as lucky after being a bit less diligent in this winter weather.
In Washington state, one truck driver made the mistake of ignoring closed-road signs and ended up stuck on White Pass in the midst severe winter weather. Because of this, the state’s Department of Transportation decided to make an example out of this lack of judgment.
“‘Road closed’ signs apply to everyone,” said WSDOT in a social media post. “This is why. On Thursday evening, this semi went through the road closure on White Pass and got stuck. Our crews had to rescue the occupants, take them to safety, and then later today, guide the truck down behind our blower.”
When negligent drivers cause accidents like this, DOT crews–who are already working long hours to keep roads cleared and people safe during inclement weather–have even more on their plates.
“Our crews have been cautiously moving with blowers down each side of the pass,” WSDOT explained. “It’s slow-going as the snow is deep and slides [have] brought down rocks, logs, and other debris, so [they have to] bring in a loader to move the debris to allow the blower to continue on. [There is] still no estimate for reopening and working on getting info, updates, [or] images from the other passes.”
Now, WSDOT is calling on all drivers–especially truckers–to pay extra-close attention to road signage and to use their best judgment at all times, for the safety of themselves, department workers, and the local community.
“Our crews are working really hard to get things open, and things like this [accident] don’t help,” WSDOT’s post continued. “So, please–if you see a ‘road closed’ sign, don’t ignore it.”