We’ve said it before, but trucking accidents are an unfortunate part of the automotive landscape here in Maryland. With the tens of thousands of passenger cars, truck and motorcycles all sharing the road with each other, it’s amazing that more accidents do not happen on a regular basis. But when it comes to collisions involving commercial vehicles, we are all in greater danger as occupants of much smaller and less massive passenger cars.
As Baltimore auto accident attorneys, I and my colleagues see just a fraction of the thousands of innocent people who are injured every year across the United States as a result of being caught up in a collision with a tractor-trailer, 18-wheeler, tanker truck, of large commercial delivery vehicle. Obviously, the sheer size and mass of these motor vehicles — approaching 20-times the weight of an average sport utility vehicle or family minivan — makes these trucks intrinsically more dangerous than other cars and trucks on the roadways.
As motorists ourselves, we have each at one time or another driven slowly past the site of a commercial vehicle accident on the expressway or country road. The destruction that such a large and heavy vehicle can cause to cars, light trucks and motorcycles is sobering to say the least. Weighing in at upward of 80,000 pounds, a commercial vehicle whose driver has lost control, for whatever reason, can easily wreck serious havoc on other passenger vehicles and bystanders. Serious and fatal injuries are not uncommon in these instances.
For anyone who doubts the potential danger that a large, heavily-loaded vehicle poses to others, just consider a University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute finding that stated the odds of a fatal traffic wreck involving a large commercial motor vehicle increases with every ton of vehicle weight. According to that study, an 18-wheel tractor-trailer weighing 80,000 pounds actually is twice as likely to be involved in a fatal collision than a similar commercial vehicle weighing about 50,000 pounds.
We preface this entry in this way because the subject of our discussion is the fatal truck accident that took place a short time ago near Baltimore City when a semi tractor-trailer hauling lumber went out of control and crashed along a stretch of Interstate 95 on a Thursday evening. According to news reports, the trucker behind the wheel was the only fatality following the wreck and subsequent fire, which was fueled by spilled diesel on the roadway.
Based on police reports, the accident occurred a little before 11pm along a northbound portion of I-95 near the junction of Interstate 395 and just outside of downtown Baltimore. From news articles, it appears that the trucker may have lost control of the large vehicle before it collided with a barrier wall separating the northbound lanes of I-95 from those of I-395. Local fire department officials stated that the impact resulted in a rupture of the so-called saddle-style fuel tanks on the tractor, which then released volatile fuel to run out onto the roadway and then catch fire.
Responding to the crash, emergency responders arrived on the scene to find the driver of the rig already dead. At the time of the news article, officials could not say whether or not the driver died from injuries sustained as a result of the collision itself, or if he may have died in the ensuing fire following the crash. Fortunately, being later in the evening and with fewer vehicles on the road, no other people were hurt as a result of the wreck, which required almost eight hours for clean-up crews to reopen the highway.
Driver dies in fiery I-95 lumber truck crash, BALTV.com, August 17, 2012
Police identify driver in fatal I-95 tractor trailer accident, BaltimoreSun.com, August 17, 2012