High winds are a fact of life for those of us who live in New Mexico, particularly during the Spring months. Wind gusts up to 40-50 mph or even more are not uncommon occurrences in our state. Strong winds have the potential to damage property, kick up massive dust clouds, and increase the danger on New Mexico roads and highways. High-profile vehicles, such as commercial trucks, are susceptible to dangerous winds and if they are improperly loaded or driven, the risk to other drivers on the road can be serious.
New Mexico highways involve long and open stretches of road and can be susceptible to very high wind conditions. I-40 and I-10 get closed periodically due to high winds resulting in very low visibility for drivers. Highways that are surrounded by dusty plains have become so dangerous that the New Mexico Department of Transportation has taken proactive steps to reduce dust cloud buildups during high winds on our highways. The NMDOT has spent thousands of dollars seeding and planting in dry, open fields near highways so that high winds will not kick up as much dust and block visibility for drivers. However, the task of lessening risks to drivers on our highways is enormous — the NMDOT maintains more than 100,000 roadway miles in the state.
Big rigs and semi trucks must exercise extreme caution when driving in high winds. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has established guidelines for truck drivers, such as §392.14 of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs), stating that “[e]xtreme caution in the operation of a commercial motor vehicle shall be exercised” during hazardous conditions. But even extreme caution may not be enough. §392.14 goes on to note that “[i]f the conditions become sufficiently dangerous, the operation of the commercial vehicle shall be discontinued and shall not be resumed until the commercial motor vehicle can be safely operated.” The bottom line is that New Mexico winds can get so dangerous that semi truck drivers should pull off the road and wait until it is safe to proceed.
Truck drivers in New Mexico must be aware of the weather conditions and take appropriate precautions. Truckers who fail to account for high winds when driving on our highways run the risk of seriously injuring or even killing people sharing the road. If you or someone you know was hurt on New Mexico roads, call the experts at Smith Templeman Law Firm at (505) 433-1583 for a free consultation.