At approximately 11:45 PM on a spring night in 2008, a semi-tractor driver accompanied by a driver trainee began his route from a warehouse loading dock in Kentucky. The driver departed with a single axle day cab pulling a 28’ refrigerated trailer loaded with detergent, refrigerated and frozen foods.
An hour later, the semi driver was driving in the right hand northbound lane on a four-lane interstate when he came upon a crash scene. A southbound mini-van had been struck by another vehicle, crossed the median, and had come to rest across the right hand northbound lane. To avoid striking the mini-van, the semi truck driver moved over to the left lane. A pick-up truck, traveling in front of the semi tractor-trailer in the left lane slowed as it passed the mini-van. After passing the mini-van, the pick-up truck driver was attempting to return to the right lane when the semi truck driver, noticing the pick-up truck had slowed, struck the pick-up truck on the left rear bumper then applied the brakes. This caused the semi-tractor trailer to jack knife and rollover onto its right side. The semi tractor-trailer slid along the pavement and struck a bridge abutment on the driver’s side. The trailer disengaged from the semi-tractor and continued to slide along the pavement where it came to rest in the right-hand lane. The driver remained in the day cab and the driver trainee was ejected from the semi onto the embankment by the bridge. The driver trainee was found by a witness who called emergency services to the scene. Emergency services arrived, contacted the coroner who arrived and declared the semi driver dead at the scene. The driver trainee was transported to the nearest hospital and later released.
To prevent future occurrences of similar incidents, the following recommendations have been made:
Recommendation No. 1: Companies should provide refresher defensive driving and safety training for company drivers and stress the Quick Clearance law and the Move Over law.
Recommendation No. 2: Stabilizer systems should be mandatory equipment on all commercial vehicles.
Recommendation No. 3: Kentucky should install median barriers along all interstate roadways in medians less than 60 feet in width.
Recommendation No. 4: Bridge abutments should be eliminated next to interstate highways.
Kentucky Injury Prevention and Research Center, "Semi-truck Driver Dies after Striking a Bridge Abutment" (2009). Fatality Case Reports--Motor Vehicle. 23.