A Baptist church suffered a terrible loss last week when a bus crash just a few hours away from Huntsville killed six members of the congregation. Two people in other vehicles died in the accident, as well. Fourteen people were injured, two listed in critical condition.
A Birmingham, Alabama, television station that followed up on a recent truck accident discovered some unnerving information about the company that owns the vehicle. It turns out, the station reported, that inspectors have pulled the company's trucks off the roads five times in the past two years. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, each time the truck posed an "imminent hazard to public safety."
Semi trucks are more formally known as tractor-trailers. Tractor-trailers crashes can be devastating; given the size of the vehicles involved, passenger automobiles that are struck can be crushed like toys, and an out-of-comission tractor-trailer can leave the entire road blocked, causing chain reaction crashes.
A stretch of Interstate 85 in Macon County, Alabama, was shut down last week for eight hours following a multi-vehicle accident. One person died in the crash, and three were injured.
The truck accidents we usually write about are most often caused by driver error. The driver is tired after being on the road for hours more than he should have been. Or the driver was distracted by a text message or cell phone call, or he was surfing the Web and did not realize the line of cars ahead of him had slowed down. The combinations are endless, but the vast majority of the blame falls at the drivers' feet.
Alabama drivers who are wary of sharing the road with fatigued tractor-trailer drivers will be interested to know that the trucking industry and consumer advocates are continuing their battle over truckers' hours of service rules. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration approved revised restart and break regulations for truck drivers in December 2011. In February 2012, American Trucking Associations challenged the rule change in federal court.
A recent case from outside of Alabama caught our attention. A jury has ordered a drunk driver and the bar that served him to pay $10.5 million in damages for their parts in the death of a 23-year-old woman. The victim's parents sued after their daughter was run down and killed in the bar's parking lot.
The families of a couple and their children have filed a lawsuit against a truck driver, his employer, two other truck drivers involved in a separate accident and their employers. What makes this case unusual is that it includes the wrongful death of a fetus, as one of the couple's children was unborn.
In our last post, we wrote about a multi-vehicle crash that involved cars, pickup trucks and tractor-trailers. Visibility was bad, and drivers apparently reacted the way most of us would: They hit their brakes. It's scary enough when a car tries to stop suddenly, but when a tractor-trailer or other commercial vehicle, like a charter bus, tries to stop, there is no "sudden" about it. Stopping distances for trucks and buses are much longer, and that increased distance increases the risk of harm to anything and anyone in the vehicle's path.
We are returning to our discussion of a young woman who suffered multiple injuries, including a traumatic brain injury, in a car accident. A tractor-trailer had gone through a red light and slammed into the car she was driving, and the truck was clearly at fault. Understanding that this young woman, 19-years-old at the time of the accident, would never be able to live independently, her parents decided to sue for damages.