How Weather Conditions Affect Commercial Motor Vehicles

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Commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) are affected by weather differently than other traffic because they generally are bigger and heavier. That means there is a greater release of kinetic energy in a crash, so the truck doesn’t stop as fast as the car can in slick road conditions. CMVs are on the road every day and are driven for longer trips, so weather conditions in many locations changes as the trip progresses.

There are many ways the transportation industry must take what is happening in the climate and adapt to treacherous conditions. Wet pavement, heavy or frozen precipitation, flooding, poor visibility, and high winds all require a driver to be skillful. This is why training for those with CDL qualifications must include a variety of conditions and time behind the wheel. But the weather also affects the road being driven on.

Flooding can eat away underneath the pavement, creating cave-ins along the side of the highway. Floods often damage bridges by weakening the support beneath. Excessive heat affects road surfaces so they soften and move underneath the weight of traffic. Every driver sees the “icy bridge” warning signs, but the heavier the vehicle, the more skilled the driver must be when that ice is under the wheels.

Drought conditions affect barge traffic because in low water they run aground. When the barges don’t move, shipments are delayed or diverted. Coastal storms slow the transportation of goods when storm surges and high tides cause major flooding. Since the transportation industry works in all sorts of weather, climate variability is a dynamic part of the package. Drivers taking emergency supplies into storm-ravaged areas may need waivers on existing hours-of-service rules. Trucks may need to be rerouted to compensate for blizzards. Since the weather cannot be controlled, transportation has to come up with ways to deal with it.

Technology has vastly improved weather forecasting, and it has also improved transportation. , For instance, the ability to collect data wirelessly from many sources and act on that information means a driver or dispatcher can change a route to avoid a storm.

Intelligent transportation system technologies are changing the way professional drivers will need to be trained in the future. CMV telematics can integrate the conditions, route, vehicle, and other data a driver must take into consideration. Learning how to utilize telematics technologies and decision support systems aids CMV operators and their industry.

Navigation, vehicle and driver monitoring, automated routing, traveler information, and roadside assistance are available through telematics technology because drivers can send and receive real-time information. Data like ambient temperature and dew points can be sent from sensors on a bridge ahead so that the driver is prepared for conditions. This microscale weather data informs about local atmospheric and pavement conditions while using dedicated short-range communications frequencies, and it’s a powerful tool in the battle of the transportation industry vs the weather.

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