Off-tracking: Rear wheels take a different, shorter path than the front wheels when the semi truck is turning or cornering.
We might think of it as “cutting the corner” of a turn.
I have seen this before, with a client who was run over by the back wheels of a semi-truck turning the corner.
I saw it again very recently, as Coluccio Law handled a case involving the tragic death of a truck driver who was assisting another driver at a truck stop.
A father killed by off-tracking semi-truck
Truck stops in some areas are often very busy and overcrowded. (We have discussed truck parking as a safety issue).
On a cold, rainy evening in February, my clients’ father, a commercial truck driver, stopped at a truck stop outside of Seattle.
When he saw that another driver was having difficulty parking in the busy lot, he went to help. As he was helping this driver, he was run over and killed by the back wheels of another truck’s trailer.
The other truck driver had seen him, but failed to keep him in sight.
Off-tracking is a common occurrence of which the general public is unaware but, which requires constant consideration by truck drivers. They have to account for the position of the trailer’s wheels every single time they turn the rig.
In this case, the police didn’t even realize what had happened. The initial law enforcement report concluded that my client’s father was killed because he walked backward directly into the semi truck’s path.
It was only after interviewing witnesses and consulting with experts that we understood the role off-tracking played in his death.
It makes me wonder: how often pedestrians are blamed for “walking in the path” of a tractor-trailer that shouldn’t be there?
In this case, and in many others, they don’t survive to tell us.
Coluccio Law earned a confidential settlement for the children and Estate in wrongful death lawsuit for the pedestrian truck driver.