Teen Loses Life After Hitting Semi Truck Parked in Emergency Lane

Teen Hyrum Rasmussen of Taylor, Utah, lost his life on November 17, 2017, after colliding into the rear of a semi truck that was parked in the emergency lane. According to KSL News, the teen was driving a Hyundai Sonata on slushy roads when the crash occurred. It is not clear if he lost control because of slippery conditions or whether he was following the taillights of the semi in front of him and then realized the truck was stopped on the shoulder. From the pictures, it appears that his car slid sideways right into the rear of the big rig’s trailer. According to the report, he was not wearing his seat-belt and sadly passed away at the scene.

A tragic crash like this is a reminder to everyone to ALWAYS where your safety belt as you never know when a collision may occur. In this era of cell phones and impaired driving, we must be prepared for other people driving carelessly by wearing our seat belt at all times.

In reading the story on this crash, I feel like there are questions that need to be answered. The first is why the semi was in the emergency lane in the first place. From the pictures, the snow was not sticking to the road. It was obviously slippery though, as the car hit sideways into the back of the parked truck. Yet I wonder if this is why the trucker pulled over in the first place. And if he or she wasn’t pulled over for weather, was it because of an emergency and if so, what was that emergency? Was this a valid emergency? Additionally, were the truck’s flashers on to warn other motorists that it was on the side of the road?

Utah drivers’ training manuals state that vehicles must not drive in the emergency lane unless there is an actual emergency. One of the main reasons for this is the foreseeability that vehicles parked in the emergency lane will get hit! Like a moth to a flame, motorists are subconsciously programmed to follow the taillights of vehicles in front of them. To see the validity of this, look no further than our own Utah Highway Patrol that get its vehicles smashed into on a regular basis when they’re parked in the emergency lanes of our highways. (Here’s a link to a recent crash where the exact same thing happened, with a less fatal outcome.)

This is why there are now laws requiring motorists to move over for parked emergency vehicles and why we see signs stating that if your car is disabled, you should pull over in the emergency lane and keep your seatbelt on.

Legally speaking, it is possible the family of the deceased has a claim against the driver and trucking company for this crash, depending on how the facts come down. The police report and statements from the driver may shed some light on this and illuminate whether there is a claim or not and whether there needs to be a deeper inquiry.