Critics keep saying that the big rigs should be segregated to their own roads, or their own lanes—for their own protection, and that of other drivers. In a perfect world…
And yet trucking accidents keep happening. Last Tuesday an employee of a wrecker service was struck by a semi-truck while he was assisting another motorist on Interstate 35, about 3 miles north of Blackwell in Kay County, Oklahoma. The driver of the semi had just merged from an inside, to the outside lane when the wrecker service employee, Gale Ray Pemberton, 61, of Blackwell was struck. He received massive head, arm, leg and trunk injuries and was pronounced DOA at hospital.
A day later, in Denver, the driver of a massive semi hauling two trailers ran his rig off Interstate 76 near East 88th Avenue after becoming distracted by his cell phone. The rig slammed into the guardrail with such force that debris from the guardrail flew off and hit other vehicles, causing a series of secondary accidents.
A trooper with the Colorado State patrol suggested the accident could have easily been a lot worse.
In contrast, it could not have ended any worse for the passengers of a Canadian SUV that spun out of control and into the path of an oncoming semi. The driver of the big rig survived, but all four occupants of the SUV driving along Highway 63 in Alberta last Sunday were killed.
Sometimes trucking accidents don't involve other vehicles. Sometimes they don't even happen on the road. Imagine the horror experienced by the family of a Manitoba man who was hit while walking through the parking lot of a truck stop. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police ruled the November 26th incident as accidental, however it still doesn't make up for the horror of the man's death. He was struck by a semi travelling slowly in the parking lot, and dragged to his death underneath.
"It's a huge traumatic experience for (drivers) to be involved in any kind of a collision," said Mayne Root, executive director for the Alberta Motor Transport Association in Calgary.
Sam McIntosh agrees. Now 61 and a chaplain at a mission for truckers in Fort Saskatchewan in Canada, the retired trucker recalls an incident three years ago where a tow-truck driver did an unsafe U-turn directly in front of a semi. The resulting collision forced the semi over a bridge, where it crashed into other vehicles and seriously injured five passengers below. The semi driver broke both his legs.
McIntosh was travelling in a truck just behind the doomed rig. If he were travelling a minute ahead of where he was, the legs broken would have been his.
And in yet another trucking accident, the driver of a minivan died December 12 after colliding with a semi-truck in west Wynandotte County, according to the Kansas Highway Patrol. The accident is still under investigation. All the Highway Patrol would disclose was that the accident, which happened just before 8:20pm on State Avenue at K-7 Highway, claimed one life.
It is true that truck accidents happen for a variety of reasons. Other motorists, clueless as to the weight, maneuverability and braking dynamics of a big rig, will unwittingly play a game of chicken with a tractor-trailer by cutting it off, turning in front of it, or merging into its lane directly in front, only to slam on the brakes.
And while big rigs usually come out on top in a tussle with a car, some big rig accidents are as big as the rig itself, subjecting the driver to forces that are often, in the worst case, inhumane and un-survivable.
But just as often, the driver of the big rig is responsible by driving tired, or allowing an unsafe vehicle on the road. Perhaps he hasn't secured his load properly. Perhaps he's driving while under the influence. Or perhaps he's driving with a cavalier attitude, as do many in big SUVs, thinking themselves to be invincible given the size, and girth of the vehicle they are driving.
There have been horrendous accidents where entire families have been killed in an entirely preventable trucking accident, while the truck driver walks away. Traumatized, yes. And perhaps, even responsible. Nonetheless, he lives.
READ MORE TRUCK ACCIDENTS LEGAL NEWS
It is safe to say that the accident car drivers fear the most, is a trucking accident. Semi truck accidents involving tractor trailors can, and are the worst kind of accident second only to being struck by a locomotive. It is noteworthy that trains run on their own tracks, and do not share a lane of traffic with cars. When a road and a train track intersect, there is an obvious need for a signalized barrier and audible, and visual signals that serve as a warning for vehicular traffic that a train is coming. Some argue that the reality of semi trucks and cars sharing the same road, is akin to removing those barriers and signals from train/road intersections, and inviting motorists to take their chances…