The headlines say things like “Three siblings killed in crash with semi parked on shoulder because driver was out of hours”, and “Siblings die in horrific accident with semi truck on I-80″.
The news coverage of the February 28 collision between a minivan and a parked big-rig largely misses the point.
This fatal highway crash didn’t occur because a trucker was “out of hours”— and it was not an “accident.” It was the tragic result of the trucker’s bad choices.
Not driving another quarter-mile to take the next exit.
A local hauler told KPIX news that the next exit off I-80 was the Port, where semi-trucks are often parked.
Not exiting the highway before his hours ran out.
The truck driver – who was sleeping at the time of the crash – told highway patrol that he was about to run out of hours, and was concerned about violating HOS laws.
Not parking along the narrow, curved shoulder of a busy highway.
I cannot imagine why any driver would choose to park his tractor-trailer here.
But the first bad choice the trucker made was not planning his route.
Simple route planning to prevent a fatal highway crash
Proper route planning could have prevented the fatal highway crash that killed three siblings and seriously injured a fourth.
It is among the most basic, and most critical, tasks for commercial truck drivers.
The truck driver should have planned his route prior to starting out that day. He should have:
- Considered traffic along the route, and factored in the likelihood of delays;
- Included the legally-required breaks into his schedule; and
- Planned where he would safely park his rig.
If the truck driver involved in this fatal highway crash was working for a motor carrier, then the motor carrier is responsible as well.
Motor carriers are supposed to work with truck drivers in route planning to avoid situations exactly like this one.
Truck drivers and motor carriers have a duty
to plan routes with scheduled rest stops.
If there was a central dispatch, then the dispatcher should have worked with the trucker to find a safe place to park. This could have been done long before the trucker was in danger of violating HOS laws.
For more than 30 years, I’ve been working to help the families of people killed in predictable, preventable truck crashes. I have seen how stronger laws and advances in safety technology have made our roads safer. And in cases like this, I see how much work we have left to do.
– Attorney Kevin Coluccio
Using truck parking lots to prevent crashes
Oregon State University researchers looked at truck parking as a public safety issue. They studied 290 miles of Highway 97, a major trucking route across Oregon.