One was a 17-year-old, just graduated from high school, on her way to the University of Miami in the fall. The other was a 29-year-old medical student, preparing to begin his clinical rotation this summer. Now, both are gone.
It happened on I-75 through Pembroke Pines, when a construction truck hauling concrete barriers pulled out into traffic on the fast-paced highway and into the path of the medical student. The truck was then struck by the vehicle driven by the 17-year-old, as concrete barriers flew out of the bed of the truck and onto her vehicle. Another large truck then barreled into the wreckage as well.
Authorities are investigating whether the concrete barrier truck, driven by a man whose commercial license had just been suspended and then reinstated days before the crash, was properly loaded and whether the driver followed proper procedure in exiting the construction site, located in the highway median.
New data released in May from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reveals there were nearly 4,000 people killed in crashes involving large trucks in 2013. That’s slightly more than the number of people killed in large truck crashes the previous year. Also in 2013, there were 95,000 people injured in these crashes.
As our Palm Beach County truck accident lawyers know, those injured in these types of collisions tend to sustain far more serious and lasting complications. The sheer size of these large trucks compared to the average motor vehicle puts non-commercial drivers at a distinct disadvantage in a wreck. That is no doubt why 71 percent of those killed in large truck crashes were the occupants of other vehicles, while another 11 percent were non-occupants (i.e., pedestrians, bicyclists, etc.).
The NHTSA also reports there were was a troubling 13 percent increase in the number of non-occupants killed. Researchers did not expound on why this might be.
While large trucks accounted for just 4 percent of all registered vehicles on the road, they were involved in 9 percent of vehicles involved in fatal crashes. The vast majority of fatal truck crashes – 80 percent – involved multiple vehicles. Compare that to the rate for passenger vehicles, which was 58 percent.
The one sliver of good news was that commercial truck drivers involved in serious and fatal crashes tended to have low rates of impaired driving – just 2 percent compared to about 23 percent for those in passenger cars and 27 percent for those on motorcycles.
That does not mean, however, truck drivers are inherently safer. It just means the underlying problems are different. Most notably for the industry is driver fatigue. Truckers are often required to work long hours with little sleep. Federal laws have attempted to curb that, but the problem persists.
Further, 15 percent of truck drivers have previously-recorded crashes, as compared to 13 percent of those in passenger cars. Nearly a quarter of those involved in fatal crashes have at least one prior speeding conviction.
In Florida, there were 187 fatal crashes involving large trucks, with a total of 3,358 vehicles involved in those incidents.
The recent tragedy on I-75 underscores the need for extensive trucker training and oversight.
Call Freeman Injury Law — 1-800-561-7777 for a free appointment to discuss your rights.
Promising young lives end in tragic crash on I-75, May 29, 2015, By Erica Pesantes and Wayne K. Roustan, Sun-Sentinel
More Blog Entries:
Text-and-Drive Crashes Inspire Florida-Born Technology, May 30, 2015, Palm Beach Truck Accident Lawyer Blog