El Niño Threatens Sacramento Area Drivers

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February 20, 2016
Edward Smith

El Niño Threatens Sacramento Area Drivers

At the moment, the state of California is in the middle of a three-year-long drought that has wrought havoc on local farmers. The Sacramento region, known for being one of the sunniest and driest regions in California, has recently seen record low rainfalls. In 2014, Sacramento saw only 10.35 inches of rain, a 51% decrease in usual rainfall totals.

When the state enters a drought, the soil becomes especially dry. During a deluge, the ground is unable to retain a lot of the moisture, resulting in mud, flooding, and mudslides. This fall, meteorologists predicted that El Niño would deliver a relentless onslaught of rain and snow to California, and the storm cycle began in earnest this week. On January 5, 2016, an El Niño storm unleashed more rain than the past 13 months in Sacramento, causing congestion and major accidents.

El Niño’s Effect on Sacramento Roadways

Even the slightest rainfall has the ability to completely halt traffic and cause serious crashes, especially involving 18-wheelers with heavy loads. Trucks with heavy loads are at a higher risk of causing catastrophic damage during an accident because they are harder to control. This is compounded further when rain is at play, making the streets slick, increasing the chance of hydroplaning, and reducing visibility.

In the early morning hours of January 5, 2016, a big-rig with a heavy load driving southbound on Highway 99 by the Dillard Road exit slid and crashed, causing a complete shutdown for hours. Meanwhile, another heavy load truck hydroplaned and flipped on I-80 East, putting traffic at a standstill.

Staying Safe during Bad Weather

While lawmakers are focused on what El Niño means for water conservation and agriculture, Sacramento residents need to be concerned with safety on the roads. Caltrans warns drivers that the Sacramento region brings a two-fold danger. In the city, big rig drivers are susceptible to hydroplaning and accidents caused by poor visibility or wet conditions. In the Sierra Nevada Mountains, big rig drivers are susceptible to spin-outs caused by hard-to-detect black ice and slushy conditions. Both types of truck accidents can lead to a total shut-down of roads and interstates for hours, especially if the truck jack knifes.

Caltrans recommends that drivers monitor traffic conditions by viewing http://quickmap.dot.ca.gov/ before setting out on the road. This map shows drivers were accidents have occurred and where traffic is heaviest. It also notifies drivers when conditions are icy or snowy enough to require snow chains.

In addition, Caltrans also recommends that car owners keep an emergency kit in their vehicles in the event that they are stuck in a traffic jam due to a heavy load big rig accident. While car accidents can be quickly cleared in order to allow traffic through, 18 wheelers, especially those involving heavier loads, can take much longer to tow given their sheer size and weight. This often presents problems when the truck is jackknifed on a narrow highway or is severely damaged. The typical emergency kit should include: water, snacks, flashlight, flares, safety vest, clothes, and a blanket.

Consult with the Edward A Smith Law Offices

I’m Ed Smith, a Sacramento Truck Accident Attorney, with the primary accident information site on the web, AutoAccident.com.

If you or a loved one has suffered a serious injury during a trucking accident in Sacramento or elsewhere in California, call me now at (916) 921-6400 in Sacramento or at (800) 404-5400 toll-free for fast, friendly advice.

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