Trucker Dead After Fiery Truck Crash in Utah

A collision between two semi trucks on I-80 in Parley’s canyon during a heavy snow storm has left one trucker dead. According to the Salt Lake Tribune, the roads were slippery and snow covered on Wednesday night, February 22, 2017, when a truck on the right-hand side of the road began slipping backward. At this time, the driver of a truck hauling crude oil for D&A McRae, began moving around this truck on the left side, going around 15 miles per hour. According to reports, the trucks collided, causing one of the tanker’s tanks to rupture and ignite, spilling crude oil on the road. While the driver of the tanker truck was able to get out unscathed, the driver for Voyager Express, who is from Maricopa, Arizona, sadly lost his life.

The cleanup of the crash left the westbound lanes of I-80 closed for hours as the crude oil burned through the night. This caused major traffic delays in the morning. The cause of the crash is still under investigation.

Legally speaking, drivers of commercial vehicles driving in inclement weather are required to follow trucking regulation 49 C.F.R. §392.14 during inclement weather. The trucking reg states:

Hazardous conditions; extreme caution. Extreme caution in the operation of a commercial motor vehicle shall be exercised when hazardous conditions, such as those caused by snow, ice, sleet, fog, mist, rain, dust, or smoke, adversely affect visibility or traction. Speed shall be reduced when such conditions exist. If conditions become sufficiently dangerous, the operation of the commercial motor vehicle shall be discontinued and shall not be resumed until the commercial motor vehicle can be safely operated.

Many questions remain after this tragic crash: Was the equipment of these trucks in good shape? Did the tires have good tread on them? Should the trucks and trailer have had chains on them? Should the trucks even have been on the road if the drivers were following the above trucking regulation? Had the truckers received appropriate training on best practices in driving during inclement weather? During my CDL training, I learned that many drivers of tractor trailers will simply not drive during hazardous weather until conditions improve. This is a conservative approach, but can keep truckers out of dangerous situations like this.

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