During the early hours one fall morning, a husband and wife driving team were traveling west on a divided interstate highway. A concrete barrier separated the four east bound lanes from the four west bound lanes. The wife was driving while the husband was asleep in the sleeper berth. Driving conditions were dark and the pavement dry. They were traveling in the second lane from the median and there was a passenger car to the right of the semi in the third lane from the median traveling next to the front wheel well and bumper. The passenger car driver veered into the front right wheel/ bumper area of the semi. In an attempt to avoid the car, the semi driver steered to the left, but the car struck the semi’s right steering wheel. The passenger car driver tried to steer away from the semi, but the car was stuck in the wheel well. The semi and the passenger car, crossed the left travel lane and shoulder. The semi tractor-trailer struck the barrier wall, and jackknifed; the trailer flipped over the concrete barrier twisting the semi into a barrel roll onto its top. The husband was ejected from the semi truck and died at the scene. The driver of the passenger car was determined to have a blood alcohol level of 0.21 g/100 ml at the time of the incident.

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

Recommendation No. 1: Underage drivers convicted of driving under the influence should be required to have an ignition diversion interlock device installed on their vehicle.

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: Concrete median barrier wall heights located in high traffic areas should be a installed at a height that prohibits tractor trailers from flipping over the barrier.

Recommendation No. 4: A safety needs assessment should be performed on the trucking industry.

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

07KY091_Summary.pdf (46 kB)
Case Summary