In the fall of 2009, a husband-wife semi driver team traveled south on a four-lane interstate. They were driving a semi-tractor trailer loaded with air freight. It was nighttime; the husband was driving, and the wife was in the sleeper berth. There was an unoccupied car parked on the right shoulder. The husband crossed the fog line on the right, sideswiped the car, traveled through a guardrail, and down an embankment toward a road below the interstate. During the trajectory of the semi-tractor trailer, the unit jackknifed; the trailer detached from the semi then struck the semi, and both the husband and wife were ejected. The husband was found on the embankment, and the wife was found under the contents of the semi. A witness to the crash called emergency services. They arrived and transported the husband to the nearest trauma hospital. The coroner was contacted, and upon his arrival to the scene, declared the wife dead at the scene.

To prevent future occurrences of similar incidents, the following recommendations have been made:

Recommendation No. 1: Companies should provide new and refresher truck driver safety training for company drivers that includes driver distraction and defensive driving techniques as they pertain to fatigue.

Recommendation No. 2: Passengers using the sleeper berth in a moving semi should use the restraint system currently provided by the manufacturer.

Recommendation No. 3: Sleeper berth occupant protection systems should be redesigned to provide comfort as well as safety.

Recommendation No. 4: Electronic stability systems should be mandatory equipment on all commercial vehicles.

Recommendation No. 5: Commercial vehicle carriers should implement and enforce a workplace policy that requires drivers to wear seat belts while operating a commercial vehicle.

Recommendation No. 6: A comprehensive motor vehicle safety assessment of Kentucky’s interstate system needs to be performed in the area where the collision took place.

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Notes/Citation Information

A summary of this case is available as the additional file listed below.

09KY081_Summary.pdf (83 kB)
Case Summary