Unfortunately, accidents are a common occurrence on the highways and byways of America. Sometimes they can’t be avoided, but other times distracted driving is to blame. Such is the case of a truck driver that slammed into a Georgia Interstate bridge.
Operating a motor vehicle with an expired commercial driver’s license, the driver did not notice that his truck bed had been raised while going down the highway. Luckily, there were no reported injuries, but the bridge has been scheduled to be demolished. The crash could have proved fatal, but there were not many drivers on the road since it occurred during the early morning hours, eliminating potential loss of life.
Distracted driving can turn into deadly accidents
Distracted driving is one of the leading causes of traffic accidents. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), approximately 26,000 people have “died in crashes involving distracted drivers from 2012 to 2019.”
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests, “At 55 miles per hour, sending or reading a text is like driving the length of a football field with your eyes closed.” Doing any activity that diverts your attention from driving is considered distracted driving and can substantially “increase the chance of a motor vehicle crash.”
The bridge in Georgia will be demolished due to the accident
A distracted dump truck driver was unaware that the bed of his truck had switched into the upright position. The Drive reported that the dump truck hit an overpass while crossing Interstate 16 in Treutlen County, Georgia. The accident caused the entire bridge to shift approximately 6 feet, shutting down traffic for days.
Fox 5 Atlanta reported the highway has since reopened after crews were forced to partly demolish the State Route 86 overpass. Obtaining a copy of the motor vehicle crash report, they found, “the driver was driving a Peterbilt 379 hauling a hopper dump trailer.” The report stated, the “dump function initiator malfunctioned and caused the hopper to elevate the bed into the dump position.”
The 40-year-old driver, operating the truck on a suspended CDL, crashed into the bridge’s east side. According to Fox 5 Atlanta, “The trailer chassis separated from both the cab and hopper and ended up stopped patricianly in the emergency lane a short distance away.” They explained, “After the initial impact, the cab continued forward, swerved into the median, through the cable barrier, and ended up stopping on the shoulder of the opposing lane of travel.”
According to Autoblog, the Georgia Department of Transportation reported the driver was not injured during the accident, but the bridge experienced extensive damage. A shocking picture posted to Facebook showed how the yellow line down the center of the road had drastically shifted. Due to this, Jalopnik reported that Georgia Governor Brian Kemp said the bridge demolition would create some “dynamic traffic issues,” which is an understatement.
The potential dangers of truckers and distracted driving
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) reported that “71 percent of large-truck crashes occurred when the truck driver was doing something besides driving the truck.” The most common forms of distraction for truck drivers include using a mobile phone, texting, reading, eating, or adjusting the radio. Looking at passing billboards, people, or buildings is another common form of distraction to truckers.
According to Truck Driving Jobs, “Data suggests that approximately 5,000 people in passenger vehicles die every year in accidents involving semi-trucks. Additionally, about 700 individuals in the semi-trucks die each year in these crashes.” They suggest, “Many believe truckers may be more prone to distraction due to long hours they spend behind the wheel combined with the mental and physical exhaustion they often experience.”
As a small measure, FMCSA banned commercial truck drivers from texting while driving or using hand-held cell phones in 2010. Fines can be as high as $2,750.