The vast majority of traffic accidents are minor, with smaller amounts of damages and less serious injuries. However, every once in a while, there is an accident that garners attention because of its size and/or severity. These accidents can involve hundreds of vehicles and cause multiple injuries and, in some cases, death.
From a legal perspective, these cases are very difficult for everyone involved because of the number of vehicles involved, the number of people and injuries involved, the amount of physical and property damage, and the confusion of assigning fault for the accident. Below we has had its share of spectacularly bad accidents involving trucks. They often take the form of chain-reactions collisions, each causing the one behind it. Big trucks are commonly involved because they take longer to stop, are harder to control on slippery surfaces, and occupy plenty of space across the highway, making it difficult for following cars to maneuver around. On the other hand, some truck-related crashes are notable simply because of their particular tragic circumstances.
Some of the most tragic truck accidents:
On Birmingham’s I-59, a truck accident killed a local fire chief and seriously injured his daughter. An 18-wheeler unexpectedly crossed the median, hitting two vehicles, including the SUV of the fire chief. The collision broke off the vehicle’s top, killed the 54-year old fire chief, and left his 26-year old daughter seriously injured.
The worst truck accident in Montana history happened when a school bus collided with a fuel tanker truck during a snowstorm in January. The bus passengers included the high school wrestling team returning from a meet when a double tanker truck jumped from the opposite side of the highway and came down right in front of the bus. A huge fireball resulted from the accident that surrounded the bus. Nine people on the bus, including the coach, his wife, and child, were mortally wounded, while 19 others suffered serious to minor injuries.
In 1976, a truck carrying 7,500 gallons of ammonia lost control in the Houston freeway. It crashed through the guardrail and jack-knifed off a ramp onto a crowded highway below. The accident killed five people and injured 180 others, most of whom became trapped in a cloud of poisonous gas. The speeding truck driver was held to have caused the accident.
We know with statistical certainty that these car-truck underride crashes will continue to occur. The challenge and the need we have today is to strengthen notably weak underride guards now so we can minimize loss of life.
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