A tractor trailer driver lost control yesterday morning on I-69 in Indiana, crashed through the high tension barrier cables in the median. The trailer became detached and killed a man driving the opposite direction whose car slid under the careening trailer. According to a report by Rick Yencer of the Muncie Star Press, a state trooper said the man who was killed was wearing his seatbelt and could not have done anything to avoid the crash.
No cause for the loss of control by the truck driver was reported. However, the press photo of the crash scene shows snow and ice. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regualations, at 49 CFR 392.14, requires "extreme caution" when operating a commercial motor vehicle in "hazardous conditions, such as those caused by snow, ice, … adversely affect visibility or traction." It further requires that "speed shall be reduced when such conditions exist."
I can only speculate based on the news story, but I easily imagine a combination of slick roads, excessive speed for conditions, perhaps combined with fatigue and legal medications affecting concentration. I have no idea if any of those factors contributed to this crash, but they are part of the checklist.
Ken Shigley is an Atlanta, Georgia trial attorney with a practice is focused on cases of catastrophic personal injury and wrongful death arising from commercial truck and bus accidents. He is a former chair of the Southeastern Motor Carrier Liability Institute, and is a frequent speaker at national continuing legal education programs on trucking liability cases. He has been rated as a "Super Lawyer" (Atlanta Magazine), one of the "Legal Elite" (Georgia Trend Magazine), and a Certified Civil Trial Advocate (National Board of Trial Advocacy). To increase capacity for handling more and larger cases, he recently became "of counsel" with the law firm of Chambers, Aholt & Rickard which has an extensive trucking liability practice. Mr. Shigley is currently Secretary (and Treasurer-elect) of the State Bar of Georgia. He is available for free consultation about cases of serious injury or wrongful death in Georgia.