December 31, 2010

Illinois State Police to Provide Close Supervision of Roads During New Years

My Suburban Life reported this week on a few issues that may affect all drivers on Illinois roads this New Years’ holiday. The Illinois State Police plan on providing a strong showing of troopers on the roads during the holiday to ensure that all drivers are secure and abiding by safe driving practices.

The Department is deploying Alcohol Concentration Enforcement details for the holiday weekend, which is intended to provide even more disincentive for drinking and driving. There will also be several roadside safety checks, and new details concentrating on distracted driving. Those distracted driving forces will be watching for cell phone calls and texting while driving. On top of all of that, even more troopers will be focused on seat belt compliance, traveling too closely, and improper lane usage.

In addition, the Illinois Secretary of State issued a statement urging all drivers to be extra safe this holiday weekend. Jesse White explains, “Please don’t drink and drive and remember to buckle your safety belt—it’s your best defense against a drunk driver. If your celebrations for 2011 include drinking, designate a sober driver or use public transportation.”

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December 29, 2010

Truck Lawsuit Filed After High School Student Paralyzed

The Chippewa Herald reported earlier this week on a new truck crash lawsuit filed against a Chicago truck driver and the trucking company involved in the accident, Gertsen Interstate Systems, Inc.

Earlier this year, a car was being driver to a Marine base by a Marine Corp member with his wife, sister, and infant son in the car. Around 2 p.m. in the afternoon, the car was on Interstate 94 when it collided with a semi truck near mile marker 94. The crash was intense, with extreme physical damage and injury to all those involved.

The driver required surgery on one of his legs, but was eventually able to return to his base. His wife suffered a brain injury. The infant child was struck with life-threatening injuries but luckily survived. The driver’s sister also suffered damaging injuries that eventually left her paralyzed.

The lawsuit seeks compensation for the catastrophic injuries suffered by the paralyzed young girl. Those injuries include past and future medical bills, her on-going life care needs, loss of life enjoyment, psychological trauma, and permanent disability.

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December 27, 2010

Semitrailer Truck Accident Kills Chicago Man

Any follower of this blog is well aware that truck accidents occur with sad frequency around Chicago and throughout the rest of the state. Typically any run-in with a large vehicle like a semitrailer results in substantial destruction and physical injuries. Deaths caused by trucking accidents are common.

The Pantagraph reported last week on another area truck crash that took the life of a Chicago man. Unique about this deadly accident was the manner in which the victim was killed.

The man was driving his car southbound on Interstate 55 on Christmas Eve. For reasons still being investigated by authorities, the man’s car collided with a semirtrailer while on the highway. Initial reports indicate that slick road conditions caused by the weather may have lead to the crash. The male victim appeared to lose control of his car which was then hit on the driver’s side door by a semi.

The victim was wearing his seatbelt at the time and he did not suffer any fatal, traumatic injuries in the truck crash. However, he did find himself trapped in a position in his vehicle that left him unable to properly breathe. The coroner has concluded that he died as a result of asphyxiation.

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December 25, 2010

$23.8 Million Verdict for Chicago Truck Crash

Lawyers and Settlements reported last week on a large jury verdict given to the victim of a tragic Chicago truck accident. The lawsuit stemmed from a 2004 crash involving a sports utility vehicle and a Chicago Department of Transportation utility truck.

Following the accident both drivers suffered injuries. As is common when a larger vehicle hits a smaller one, the SUV driver suffered the more serious injuries. He was permanently paralyzed as a result of the truck crash. The size of the bigger vehicles acts in certain cases as a barrier that provides more protection its driver while inflicting more damage on the smaller cars caught in the crosshairs.

The two vehicles collided at an intersection, with both the SUV driver and IDOT truck driver claiming that the light was green when they went into the intersection. Following the trial the jury returned a verdict finding that the IDOT truck driver was 95% at fault for the crash. The victim was ultimately awarded $23.8 million due for the losses he suffered.

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December 23, 2010

Illinoisan Injured in Semi Accident

Each day typically brings news of more accidents on our roadways involving large trucks and trailers. It takes only a short trip on a highway for most travelers to come into contact with these large vehicles that transport all sorts of materials from one side of the country to the other. Obviously the transportation capability of these machines is a vital service upon which we all depend. However, that does not excuse any truck driver or trucking company from doing everything in its power to ensure that the travel is as safe as possible.

It is also imperative for all other drivers to take extra care when on the roadway around trucks. Sadly too often that does not occur, leading to devastating trucking accidents.

Earlier this week WNDU News reported on another semi accident. The crash occurred around 3pm on Tuesday. A 21-year old driver from Illinois was traveling in a rural area when he accidentally failed to stop at a stop sign. At the same time a 50-year old truck driver was traveling on the road that intersected the one with the stop sign. As a result the semi collided with the car. The car was smashed in the crash and a female passenger was rushed to a local hospital, but fortunately, there appear to be no fatalities in this crash.

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December 21, 2010

Truck Crash Causes By Driver Falling Asleep Behind the Wheel

One of the preeminent safety risks related to truckers and semi-transportation is that of driver fatigue. History has shown clearly that trucking accidents occur with startling frequency with the weariness of the driver at least a partial cause.

The risk is not a new or unknown danger. It is common knowledge that extended periods of time behind the wheel leads to slowly deteriorated driving ability with less acute reaction times and weakened ability to recognize potential dangers. The most obviously damaging form of driver fatigue involves falling asleep behind the wheel. In those cases, the semi becomes a deadly object, out-of-control, and barreling down the roadway preparing to crush whatever is in its path.

It is a truly terrifying scenario.

Yet, even though the consequences of failure to get appropriate rest are clear, it still happens all the time.

KCRA News reported on another truck driver that fell asleep in a big rig earlier this month. Shortly after 5 a.m., the driver of a semi fell asleep behind the wheel on a southbound stretch of freeway. When he nodded off, the truck sped down an embankment, overturning the semi and causing damage. Fortunately, the driver survived the trash crash. It was also only blind luck that other drivers were not caught in the crosshairs of this out-of-control machine.

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December 19, 2010

Troubled Illinois Trucking Company Involved in Fatal Accident

All those who follow issues related to truck safety on the roads are aware that many of the same trucking companies are involved again and again in deadly road accidents. Lax driving standards, problematic employees, and unsafe practices are often trademarks of a certain few companies that continue to place all other drivers at risk.

An investigative team at TMJ News recently shed a spotlight on the dangerous practices of one Illinois trucking company following a devastating Illinois tractor-trailer accident.

A week and a half ago two individuals were killed in a semi crash on US Highway 41. Soon after, the trucking company involved in the crash was discovered to have committed a host of past safety violations. Drivers for the Illinois trucking company, P.F.A. Systems Inc., have compiled a staggering 28 safety violations in the past two years alone according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. The safety violations involve a wide range of troubling activities involving improper lane changes, following too closely, and speeding.

Those violations do not even count the 21 other drivers who were found to have violating fatigued driver regulations. The company required one driver to continue behind the wheel after 14 hours on duty. The company’s actions constitute flagrant behavior. The repeated negligence demonstrated by those violations leads to an inevitable truck accident. Unfortunately, two innocent other drivers were caught in the crosshairs this time.

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December 17, 2010

Big Business Attempt to Take Away Legal Rights

Many victims of trucking accidents may not fully understand that meaning of buzz phrases like "tort reform," or the fact that it may have implications for their own legal rights. But any attempt to limit access to the justice system may affect victims of all kinds, including those injured by trucking companies.

The war to take away victim rights continued today with the release of a “judicial hellhole” report by a front group for big business. The American Tort Reform Association is an organization propped up by corporate interests like Dow Chemical, Exxon, Pfizer, and others. Their goal is to influence the passage of legislation that will ensure that people who fall victim to their negligence will have less ability to seek justice in the court system.

In a response president of the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association explains that the latest report is nothing more than a stunt to further the corporate “tort reform” agenda. The fact remains that both victims and potential tortfeasors deserve a fair hearing in the civil justice system. Instead, the big businesses want to stack the deck so that they do not even have to present their case in court. They’d prefer a “free pass” any time that they injure consumers and engage in dangerous or unfair practices.

No community is improved when corporate interests are allowed to meddle with the justice system for its own gain. It is imperative that the common sense political forces stand up to this blatant misuse of business power and influence. Major CEOs and small-town working people deserve the same legal rights. It’s a simple principle that must be preserved.

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December 15, 2010

Fatal Truck Crash on Interstate 270 Bridge

St. Louis Today reported on a tragic truck accident on a bridge in Missouri that ended in a fiery blaze and took the life of one car driver.

The accident occurred last Wednesday morning on the Chain of Rocks Bridge on Interstate 270. A 46-year old man’s car became disabled on the bridge early in the morning on his way to work. It was about 4:30 a.m. He placed a call to emergency dispatchers to his explain his situation and seek help. While waiting for emergency crews to arrive, the man attempted to move his disabled car out of the way of traffic so that it did not pose a threat to other motorists.

While he was moving the car, a semi-truck began traveling onto the bridge. The truck driver swerved to avoid hitting the disabled vehicle but in doing so he hit the driver who was outside of the car at the time. The semi then went out of control, hit a median, and burst into flames. The victim died at the scene, with his body burned virtually beyond recognition.

It was later discovered that emergency crews were late to arrive to the scene, because the dispatcher who took the call mistakenly sent crews to Interstate 70, instead of 270. Had they arrived before the accident, there is a good chance that the additional lights and police presence would have provided proper notice to other traffic to help avoid the accident.

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December 13, 2010

Negligent Chicago Truck Driver Causes Five-Vehicle Collision

Today a damaging five-car truck accident was caused by a trucker’s improper driving in downstate Illinois reports the Champaign News-Gazette.

The truck driver was traveling south on Interstate 57 when he came upon slowed traffic a few miles north of the Charleston-Mattoon exit. There had been an earlier multi-vehicle accident which caused the traffic build up. Unfortunately the driver of the truck was not paying attention as he came upon the build-up. He was traveling too fast, especially for the wintery conditions. His tractor-trailer eventually slammed into two stopped vehicles, swerved across the median, fell on its side, hit a sheriff’s deputy car that was parked on the northbound shoulder, hit a fourth car that was also traveling north, and finally stopped all the way across the northbound lanes. It was a whirlwind accident that caused a stream of damage in its wake.

Fortunately, the other drivers and passengers avoided serious injury in the accident. But the truck driver himself was injured and hospitalized at a local medical facility. Police officers eventually charged the negligent trucker with several violations for the accident including speeding and improper lane usage.

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December 11, 2010

Brake Failure And Icy Roads Leads To Coal Truck Accident

The Charleston Gazette posted earlier this month on a deadly coal trucking accident that took the life of the driver. The haulage accident occurred near Cabin Creek at the Massey Energy surface mine.

The accident occurred around 5:35 in the afternoon on a Saturday at the fork of Carbon Road and Cabin Creek Road. The driver lost control of the truck while traveling downhill, causing his vehicle to overturn, killing the driver. Authorities believe that brake failure on the truck and the icy road conditions contributed to the accident.

Unfortunately, trucking accidents of this type are not rare. The same coal company lost another driver in a similar manner earlier last year. In that case a 70-year old driver lost control of his truck when he tried to drive up a short embankment while traveling downhill on a paved road. His truck overturned and he was thrown from the car, dying while pinned underneath the cab.

Following the two deadly trucking accident, trucking officials claim that they are doing everything in their power to ensure that haul roads are safe.

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December 9, 2010

First State Implements Recommended Trucking Safety Program reported this weekend on a comprehensive truck safety project in Mississippi that may become a model for the rest of the country.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration recently awarded a $3.5 million grant to the state’s Department of Transportation to implement all three elements of a new Smart Roadside System. The road safety project was developed by the Federal Highway Administration and is intended to get all trucking violators off the road before they can harm other highway users. Specifically, the project will identify unregistered and overweight trucks, carriers with low safety ratings, and those with expired credentials.

Many high-tech tools are used in the effort, including automated safety and credential verification systems, infrared cameras, and virtual weigh stations. The technology allows officials to verify trucking tags immediately, determine if fuel taxes are paid, and even to ensure that trucks brakes are working properly. All of this information is gathered seamlessly as trucks enter and leave highway exits.

Initially, officials indicate that brake issues make up a large portion, virtually 90%, of the problems they have seen with big rigs so far. But they have also identified under-inflated and overinflated tires, oil leaks, and exhaust issues. Each of these vehicles that can be removed from the road before these mechanical issues cause serious harm is a benefit to road safety.

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December 7, 2010

Rear Underride Guards On Trucks May Be Ineffective

Safety Research & Strategies, Inc.—a group focused on investigating the best practices to keep consumers safe while behind the wheel—recently posted a blog story that raises doubts about the usefulness of underride guards installed on many tractor trailers.

These devices are built on the back of many large trailers as a way of preventing other vehicles riding underneath the truck in a read-end collision. However, new research from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration suggests that the currently mandated guards do little to nothing to improve safety for car and truck drivers.

Since 1998, the guards are required to meet a strength test when installed on certain trailers. Six years later the NHTSA began testing the usefulness of the strength requirement to determine if the strength requirements did in fact prevent certain deadly accidents. The results of that investigation reveal that the guards had little to no effect on safety improvement. The presence or non-presence of the guard had no statistical influence on car accident deaths or serious injuries. Conversely, factors like whether the collision occurred at a corner of a trailer versus directly behind it did statistically influence the seriousness of the accident.

A large factor in the problem may be that the Administration did not do enough to improve standards when it made strength requirements in 1998. The agency decided not to push the Truck Trailer Manufacturer Association’s too much, mandating only a very small increase in the product strength requirements.

Independent researchers have tested a much better product than the one currently required. Compared to underride guards in the U.S., these alternative guards do a much better job of protecting small cars from underride.

These superior safety devices have been tested literally for decades. Researchers have known of their improved effectiveness since the 1970s, but the changes have not been required on many vehicles in the U.S. While the trucking industry may benefit from not having to make changes to its vehicle fleet, the vast majority of drivers suffer a higher risk of potential injury if caught in a rear-end crash.

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December 5, 2010

Bizarre Trucking Fire Kills Driver

The News Tribune reported this weekend on a strange truck crash involving two semi-trailers. Apparently the driver of a large truck carrying coffee products was on small side streets making a delivery to a local business. While moving slowly attempting to park his truck, the vehicle accidentally backed into another parked semitrailer. For reasons that investigator are still uncovering, the truck carrying the coffee burst into flames upon impact.

The fire was very intense and spread quickly. One firefighter explained that the cab itself “disintegrated and burned to the ground.” It was too late to save the driver, and he was found dead in the driver’s seat of the vehicle upon arrival of emergency personnel.

The bizarre circumstances of the accident were initially very suspicious to authorities. It seems intuitively unlikely that a semi fire would erupt in so intense, quick, and damaging a manner caused only by one vehicle backing into another. However, officials have indicated that the crash was accidental.

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December 3, 2010

Illinois Woman Killed in I-70 Truck Crash

St. Louis Today reported on a deadly truck crash in southern Illinois that struck on Monday night.

A young 18-year old woman was driving a 1998 Pontiac Grand Am on Interstate 70in Madison County. She was near the Silver Lake rest area when, for reasons still unknown, she made a sudden lane change from the left lane into the right. The quick car movement caused her Pontiac to hit the rear driver’s side of a Chevy Impala that was being driven in the right lane.

The Impala slid off the road into a drainage ditch. The young driver’s Pontiac also slid, but it flipped over while sliding. The careening, overturned vehicle did not stop until it struck a large tractor-trailer parked on the shoulder of the exit next to the rest stop. The woman suffered serious injuries and died shortly after. The Impala driver was not injured in the wreck.

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December 1, 2010

Snow Truck Hits Four Children Crossing the Street

Frigid temperatures and the first signs of drifting snow this week have unequivocally rung in the winter season in Chicago. This time of year always involves skating in Millenium Park, lights down Michigan Avenue, and the Christkindlemarket on Daley Plaza.

However, the change in weather means something else to all Chicago travelers—new and dangerous road hazards. Of course it is only a matter of time before large amounts of snow and ice are dumped on our roadways. This often presents visibility concerns for many drivers and requires slower more calculated movement as the roads become slick and unpredictable.
At the same time, snowfall brings out droves of snow plowing trucks seeking to make the roads safe for travel. When not careful, however, the trucks themselves can cause unique truck accidents that injure others.

That is just what happened in Wyoming today, as a snow plow crashed into four walking children. Mlive News reported on the truck accident that struck in the early afternoon, around 12:54pm. Four children (ages 6 to 9) who attended a local school were walking together across the street after classes had ended. At the same time a truck with a snow plow came driving through the intersection, hitting the children. Three of the victims suffered minor injuries while one child, a 6 year old girl, was rushed off to a local hospital and remains in critical condition.

The truck driver claims that the light was green when he went through the intersection, but police are still investigating the scene to determine exactly what happened.

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