A driver was killed in a big rig fire on the 10 Freeway in Fontana on Jan. 26, 2015. (Credit: KTLA)
The driver of a commercial truck was killed when his truck collided with a pole and caught on fire on the 10 Freeway in Fontana late last month.
The accident occurred just after 3 a.m. on January 26 on the westbound 10 Freeway near Citrus Avenue. The truck, which was transporting chicken, burst into flames and blocked several lanes of traffic. The freeway was shut down as the California Highway Patrol investigated the fatal crash, and three of the lanes remained closed throughout the morning rush-hour commute.
Nearly 70 percent of all freight (by weight) in the U.S. is moved by commercial trucks, and the trucking industry carries over 9 billion tons of freight annually. With more than 1.7 million truck drivers on the road in 2012, it is more important than ever that truck drivers—and other drivers commuting alongside commercial trucks—exercise caution on the roads and minimize the risk of an accident.
Commercial truck accidents are often more serious than typical car accidents because of the sheer size and weight involved. When a semi truck collides with a car, the driver and passengers in the car face a much higher risk for injury and death than when two average-sized vehicles collide. In fact, theNational Highway Transportation Safety Administration found that the driver and occupants of the smaller vehicle are more than four times more likely to be killed than the truck driver (7.4 percent chance vs. 1.6 percent chance).
These accidents have a number of causes, including:
- Driver negligence is ten times more likely to be the cause of a trucking accident than other factors, including weather, road conditions, and vehicle performance, according to a study from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Examples of driver negligence or error may include fatigue, distracted driving, speeding, and careless or reckless driving. Drivers are required to follow hours of service regulations established by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Truck drivers are limited to 11 hours driving per day and 14-hour workdays. Drivers are not allowed to work more than 70 hours per week without resting for 34 consecutive hours, and drivers must take a 30-minute break during the first eight hours of a shift.
- Substance abuse, most commonly involving drugs to stay awake. The use of prescription drugs, over-the-counter energy pills, or illicit drugs can affect a driver’s judgment and cause deadly accidents.
- Defects, including insufficient lighting, worn brakes, overweight trailers, or lack of reflective surfaces. Equipment failure as a result of manufacturing or design defects opens up the truck manufacturer to liability for crash-related injuries.
- Company negligence, including improper training of the truck driver or lack of maintenance of the commercial truck. Failure to service brakes, change tires, secure cargo, properly attach the trailer, or attend to other maintenance needs creates a dangerous situation for the truck driver, other motorists on the road, and the trucking company or lessor. A study from the Department of Transportation and the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration found that traveling in poor weather, driving on curved roads, and driving at speeds of 55 mph or higher significantly increase the risk of rollover and jackknife for large trucks.