A deadly chain reaction accident occurred in Port Orange, Florida on Dec. 29 around 3:30 a.m. after the driver of a logging truck lost control, causing the truck to overturn and spill logs onto I-95, according to an Examiner.com article.

A double-semi chemical truck carrying methyl bromide hit the logging truck and then erupted into flames, releasing toxic smoke into the surrounding area. A passenger car subsequently hit a log in the road and was then struck by a U.S. Postal Service tractor-trailer. The driver of the chemical truck was killed and five others were injured. The police have not released the cause of the accident.

Causes of Trucking Accidents

Three of the most common contributing factors to a tractor-trailer driver losing control of his vehicle include speeding, distracted driving and fatigue.

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), nearly 3,500 people were killed in large truck accidents in the United States in 2009. Of those accidents, truck driver fatigue was a direct factor in 13% of all truck accident fatalities.

Although large trucks make up only 3% of the vehicles on the road, one out of every eight traffic fatalities occurs in a collision with a tractor-trailer. Unfortunately, most often the victims are those in the passenger cars. In fact, statistics show that over three-fourths of the injured victims in truck accidents were in a passenger vehicle struck by a tractor-trailer.

Many of the victims that survive the accident suffer very serious injuries, including traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord damage, closed head injuries, paralysis, severe burns, severe internal injuries and loss of limbs. These catastrophic injuries also have long-lasting effects, requiring extended rehabilitation Injuries affect not only the victim but his or her family as well.

The Role Truck Loads Play in Accidents

As was shown with the December accident, the load tractor-trailers carry can contribute to the seriousness of an accident. Chemical trucks can explode and logs may come off a truck and act as projectiles or obstacles in the roadway, compounding the damage in an accident.

In addition, logging trucks may be longer than most tractor-trailers and have a higher center of gravity, requiring extreme caution when operating them.

The FMCSA has regulations to keep truckers and others on the highway safe. The hours-of-service provision is meant to keep drivers rested by restricting truck drivers to 11 consecutive hours of driving, after which they must take a 10-hour break.

The cargo securement regulations state that, “cargo must remain secured on or in the transporting vehicle under all conditions that could reasonably be expected to occur in normal driving.” The regulation cites the need for fully secured cargo to prevent:

  • A crash
  • Loss of life
  • Loss of load
  • Issuance of citations/fines to driver/carrier
  • Damage to the vehicle
  • Damage to the cargo
  • The vehicle being placed out-of-service

Our truck accident attorneys have seen the devastating impact a tractor-trailer accident can have on a victim and their family. While we realize that some accidents are just that, drivers of 80,000 pound vehicles should be extra vigilant and take special care when traveling on Florida roads. We also encourage other Florida drivers to stay alert and to always drive defensively when around large trucks.

About Philip DeBerard, Injury Attorney

The law firm of Philip DeBerard, Injury Attorney, has provided professional and compassionate legal assistance to personal injury and accident victims in South Florida and the Treasure Coast since 1975. The firm’s practice areas include car accidents, motorcycle accidents, truck accidents, product liability, dog bite injuries, swimming pool accidents, slip and fall injuries, medical malpractice, and wrongful death claims.

Our law firm represents victims of car accidents across South Florida, including Port St. Lucie, Okeechobee, Stuart, Fort Pierce, Jupiter, Vero Beach and Palm Beach, and throughout South Florida and the Treasure Coast.

If a distracted driver in Florida has injured you or someone you love, call 1-800-299-8878 now to speak with a knowledgeable Florida car accident attorney or fill out our online contact form.