Austin, Texas is not only the fastest growing city in the U.S., averaging about 2.9% growth, but growing congestion and inattentive drivers are contributing to several truck crashes each week on I-35.
On Thursday (Feb. 18, 2016), an out of control tractor-trailer hit the center guard rail and was rear-ended. The truck driver was hospitalized with serious injuries. When it was over, another rig and five cars were involved in the crash— mostly from damage from debris at the crash scene. Both directions of I-35 were shut down for several hours.
KXAN-NBC investigated why so many truck crashes are happening.
And the main reasons for truck crashes on I-35?
- Unsafe lane changes
- Drivers not paying attention.
Sen. Kirk Warson, D-Austin would like to see through-truck traffic take SH-130 to bypass much of the city. He would reduce SH-130 tolls for trucks during peak traffic times. A truck and trailer pay about $10 to run SH-130.
KXAN found most I-35 truck crashes happen between 12 PM and 3 PM.
Data from American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) shows Austin, TX ranks No. 16 for traffic congestion.
Traffic on I-35 slows to a crawl in late afternoons, according to this chart provided by ATRI. Even if trucks took the toll-road at that time, it is doubtful fewer truck crashes would result, in my opinion. Traffic is at a crawl at 6PM.
Is Aggressive Driving to Blame?
It’s a fact. Most collisions are preventable.
The National Safety Council (www.nsc.org) (NSC), defines a preventable collision as one in which the driver failed to do everything that they reasonably could have done to avoid it.
The next video is 58 seconds long and was viewed over 8 million times. Watch as a car attempts an unsafe lane change.
It may be possible that the vantage point from the camera is much better than from the driver’s seat — especially if the driver is sitting low.
Two vehicles attempted to occupy the same space at the same time. Fortunately for both, no one was injured.
But could this collision have been prevented?
Applying the Preventability Standard
The American Trucking Association (ATA), uses the following standard to determine the preventability in a crash . . .
“Was the vehicle driven in such a way to make due allowance for the conditions of the road, weather, and traffic and to also assure that the mistakes of other drivers did not involve the driver in a collision?”
This is not a legal standard to determine collision fault. This standard is simply to determine if proper precautions were taken to avoid a collision.
In this video one can only speculate if the truck driver is driving defensively or not. Because of that element of doubt, and without any further mitigating facts, I would be inclined to believe the truck driver could have started slowing down a little sooner, not just pull to the left-shoulder, and possibly no collision would have resulted.
The concepts of preventability and defensive driving are essential to the operation of a fleet safety program.
A fleet safety supervisor must diligently work to create awareness of not only the importance of preventability, but also the fleet and defensive driving procedures involved. Providing adequate training as well as holding drivers accountable for preventable accidents will not only reduce the vehicle accident frequency but improve the fleet operations and the company’s bottom line. Hartford Insurance and National Association of Wholesale Distributors
Thank you for reading this.