The new year began in Maine with a series of tractor-trailer accidents along icy roads throughout the state.
According to state troopers, crashes on Route 9 and on Interstate 95 shut down traffic for many hours – and in one case, until the next day – while crews worked to clear the wreckage. Amazingly, no serious injuries were reported, though one driver had minor cuts and bruises and 20 other passenger vehicles sustained damage. Additionally, a 30-foot section of guardrail attached to a bridge on Bond Brook overpass was decimated.
While icy, snow conditions are nothing new for Maine drivers, tractor-trailers are known to be less maneuverable. They start more slowly, they take more time to stop and they are especially susceptible to adverse road conditions. Considering the average 18-wheeler commercial truck weighs about 25 times that of a regular car (in some cases, up to 40 times more), the risk of serious injuries and death in tractor-trailer collisions is high. In fact, crashes involving large trucks account for one-eighth of all traffic fatalities.
Our Bangor trucking accident lawyers know this time of year, truck drivers and their employers must take special care to prevent accidents. That means not only driving with extra caution, but being sure not to overload or pressuring drivers to make unrealistic deadlines that may encourage them to speed or stretch federal drive-time laws.
In the recent cases, authorities are still analyzing which factors may have played a role in the specific crashes.
On Route 9, troopers reported three tractor-trailers skidded off the road on separate patches of the roadway in Hancock County. In Augusta, two other accidents involving semi-trucks occurred on I-95.
When the first crashes started to occur, around 4:30 a.m., the road was described as “slick.”
In one of the cases, a 22-year-old tractor-trailer driver was operating a flatbed tractor-trailer that was empty when she lost control on an icy patch of the highway and struck the guardrail. The impact not only destroyed the guardrail, it ripped the front axle off the truck, which fell onto the road below. The fuel tank of the truck was also damaged, and fuel was spilled all over the roadway, creating additional hazards for other drivers.
In another case, a semi-truck driver swerved to avoid a pickup truck whose driver braked in front of him. A collision was reported, but the truck driver’s efforts to avert a direct impact minimized the damage. Still, a crash of that nature indicates the trucker was likely following to closely or traveling too fast to start.
Many of the passenger vehicles were damaged when chunks of ice and snow were sent flying off both trucks and other cars and sport utility vehicles. Troopers urged all drivers to ensure ice and snow were removed from their vehicles before taking to the road.
While taking care when driving in adverse conditions is always advisable, it is especially important when sharing the road with large trucks. Use special caution when entering the highway from a ramp to merge, as large trucks in icy conditions may not be able to slow down in enough time to avoid a collision.
If you are the victim of a Bangor truck accident, contact Peter Thompson & Associates at 1-800-804-2004 for a confidential consultation to discuss your rights.
Icy roadways across Maine lead to multiple tractor-trailer accidents, Jan. 5, 2014, By Ryan McLaughlin, Bangor Daily News