Anytime a person is killed as a result of a traffic accident there is always a lingering question of whether things could have truned out differently depending on the circumstances. Many fatal car, truck and motorcycle wrecks seem so senseless when the families of the victims look back on the incident. Although the reasons are not always clear, certain things may be obvious, such as speed too fast for weather conditions, poorly maintained tires or impropoerly designed safety equipment and driver fatigue.
How important is it to get to one’s destination fast if the alternative is not getting there at all? Sad but true, a certain percentage of these deadly collisions could probably have been avoided if something had not occurred or a certain fateful choice had never been made.
As a Maryland personal injury attorney, we often hear victims’ families ask these kind of after-the-fact questions with little hope of knowing for certain if their loved one could have avoided the tragedy altogether. One known cause of commercial truck accidents is driver fatigue, whcih has been a constant source of concern for police and regulatory agencies for decades. This is why there exists federal regulations limiting hours of service. In fact, 49 CFR Part 395 puts limits on when and how long commercial trucker may operate their vehicles.
While trucking accidents usually result in the occupants of a second, smaller passenger car being hurt or killed, there are cases were the trucker himself is the victim of an 18-wheeler accident. And while these vehicles provide the operator with a fair amount of protection in the cab, injuries do occur and death is always a possibility.
Such was the case not long ago when a truck driver from the Baltimore area lost control of his rig on a stretch of Interstate 695 in Towson, plowing into an abandoned minivan on the shoulder, and then bursting into flames against the sound wall next to the roadway. According to news reports, 39-year-old Russell William Lewis died at the scene, though it was not known if he died from the crash or the subsequent flames that engulfed the tractor portion of the rig after the tractor-trailer overturned.
According to Maryland State Police, Lewis was likely traveling along the inner loop of I-695 around 4:30am when his semi carrying a load of calcium carbonate veered off the roadway and smashed into the unoccupied minivan.
At the time of the news article, Maryland State Police did not believe that speed was a factor in the fatal accident, however they were looking into the possibility that the driver may have fallen asleep at the wheel prior to the wreck. Similarly, authorities had not yet ruled out the possibility that Lewis may have experienced a medical emergency.
Driver killed in early morning crash on I-695 in Towson, ABC2News.com, January 4, 2011