We have written often on this blog about the need to exercise extra caution when sharing the road with tractor trailers and other commercial vehicles when traveling. While commercial vehicles are an essential part of our economy, the sheer difference in mass makes collisions with these vehicles especially deadly. The size and mass of a tractor trailer can also make it difficult to control once the physics of an accident are set in motion, resulting in jack-knifes, rollovers, difficulty in stopping abruptly, etcetera. Statistically, ten percent of accidents involving a tractor trailer or other big truck result in at least one fatality, with the driver of the smaller vehicle sustaining the fatal injury in eighty percent of the accidents.
In the state of Missouri, during the period from 2005 through 2011, commercial vehicles have been involved in 895 fatal crashes resulting in 1037 fatalities. The number of people injured totaled almost 31,000 during that same period.
These past two weeks in Missouri have been no exception with a pedestrian killed near Caruthersville, Missouri after being struck by a tractor trailer on Interstate 55. Highway 55 was also shut down this past week when a tanker truck driver lost control of his vehicle and ran off the roadway, hit a guard rail and jack-knifed near Bloomsdale, Missouri. The tanker exploded, killing the driver. And in New Madrid County, the driver of a semi-truck was injured on I-55 when the truck he was driving veered off the road and overturned in a ditch.
Whether you are a driver of a big rig or the driver of a passenger vehicle in close proximity, be careful to respect the size and speed of these vehicles. While these accidents may never be totally eliminated, perhaps the best deterrent to these tragic deaths and injuries is increased vigilance.