Articles Posted in Truck Accident

As this blog has discussed numerous times, tractor trailers are dangerous vehicles and cause a disproportionate amount of serious accidents on the road. Our Atlanta tractor trailer lawyers also appreciate that accidents with tractor trailers are often more severe when involving particuarly vulnerable vehicles, like small care, motorcyles, or bicycles. For example, in one sad story from this week, the two ends of the transportation spectrum- the big, powerful tractor trailer and the small, vulnerable bicycle- collided with tragic results.

According to news reports, 64 year old Michigan native Pete Cornell was biking from Alaska to the Florida Keys. He was nearing the end of his cross country bike trip when a tractor trailer rig hit him on a highway near Dawson, Georgia. It was just before daybreak when the rig smashed into the back of his bicycle. The tractor trailer also hit two of his companions, both also from Michigan, 62 year old Thomas Clark and 60 year old Joseph Muscato. The two companions were injured, Mr. Clark seriously, and Mr. Cornell was killed in the accident. Mr. Cornell and his friends always wore helmets and reflective clothing and lights, according to friends, but he was never overly concerned about being in danger. Bike.jpg

Mr. Cornell spent most of his life in Ann Arbor, Michigan, as a real estate agent, but retired in Florida. He took up biking in retirement, and he biked all over the United States, according to friends. The cross country trip he was on when he died was a continuation after biking from Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, to Calgary, Alberta, last year. He had completed 2,700 miles of the 3,500 mile trek when he died, covering about 100 miles a day. He told friends worried for his safety on the road that this bike trip would be his last and with it, he would accomplish everything he wanted to accomplish.

The size and power of a tractor trailer and the recklessness of running a red light combined this week in a fatal accident, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. As Atlanta truck accident lawyers, we know that dangerous driving is compounded when a tractor trailer is involved, and these two innocent women suffered the consequences.

trucking accidents.jpgLast week, on her third day in a new job, former Atlanta Journal-Constitution advertiser Tracy Downer rode along with her experienced co-worker, Michelle Chinnis, who had been with the company for eight years. The two women worked for, a subsidiary of Cox Enterprises. Ms. Chinnis was an advertising specialist with AutoTrader and Ms. Downer had just been hired as an advertising consultant. The two were on a sales call at the time and were in Ms. Chinnis’s car when witnesses say an 18-wheel tractor trailer ran a red light and smashed into them on Thornton Road in Douglas County. Witnesses also heard the loud screeching of the tires trying to stop but the tractor trailer did not have enough time or space. The impact pushed the coworker’s Nissan forward into the intersection and caused a chain reaction crash that injured four others who were hospitalized. Ms. Downer, 44 years old and with two young children aged six and nine, died at the scene. Ms. Chinnis, 35 years old and with a 16 year old daughter, had to be extricated from the wreck and taken to the hospital, where she later succumbed to her injuries.

The coworkers of these two women have already started a fund for the three children, hoping to provide for them to go to college despite the tragedy in their young lives.

Our Atlanta tractor trailer attorneys know that tractor trailers are dangerous on the roads, and not only for vehicle crashes. Hauling different types of cargo, sometimes hazardous materials, is also a danger. And if the tractor trailer is not maintained properly or the cargo not secured, debris can also be a risk to other people on the road.

tractor trailer.jpgUnfortunately this is what happened earlier this week when an 8 year old girl, Cameron Mcilwain, was killed on I-20 near downtown Atlanta on Wednesday evening, according to the Georgia State Patrol. A tractor trailer driven by David Washington was eastbound near Martin Luther King Jr. Drive when parts of the truck’s transmission flew off. Troopers said the transmission broke into several pieces, some of which went over the wall and struck a vehicle in the westbound lane. The debris hit a Chevrolet Blazer going westbound. It went through the Chevy’s windshield, hit the driver, 29 year old Jameka French, in the arm and then struck and killed the driver’s daughter, Cameron, in the backseat. Ms. French was able to stop her car near the median wall. She was taken to Grady Memorial Hospital where her arm was amputated below the elbow as a result of her injuries. Ms. French’s other child, 19 month old Kanary Malone, only suffered minor cuts from the shattered glass. Three other vehicles were struck with debris, but there were no other injuries reported.

Mr. Washington was driving the tractor trailer for CW Transport at the time, according to the Georgia State Patrol. Spokesperson Gordy Wright said any charges to be filed against Mr. Washington will happen after the completion of the investigation into this accident. “There is a possibility charges could be filed,” said Mr. Wright. “Or this could end up being a very freak tragic accident.” He went on to say, “In the situation like this, where it appears there was mechanical failure, officers are going to conduct a full inspection on the tractor-trailer to determine if there were other violations.”

As Atlanta tractor trailer accident attorneys, we know how dangerous these vehicles can be on the road. They are used to transport all manner of hazardous or highly flammable material, and if something goes wrong there are often serious problems.truck accident speeding.jpg

A tractor trailer hauling hazardous liquids crashed and caught on fire in the early hours last Tuesday. The crash happened near the Gwinnett-Barrow county line on I-85 near Georgia Highway 211. Braselton police Assistant Chief Lou Solis told reporters that one of the brakes on the tractor trailer caught fire, and the fire spread to the trailers. This was a twin trailer truck, and the rear trailer contained the hazardous liquids. Barrow County doesn’t have haz-mat capabilities so Gwinnett County had to send a crew equipped with haz-mat suits to deal with this accident. The fire crews doused the flames, but not before 200 to 300 gallons of hazardous liquid spilled out of the trailer (for a previous posting on a similar incident, see here).

The chemicals were contained in the shoulder area of the road and the trucking company hired a private company to come do further clean up of the hazardous material. Lieutenant Blair Darst, the incident commander for the emergency call, said “With the help of Braselton Police, Barrow County Sheriff’s Office, Georgia State Patrol, Department of Transportation, Environmental Protection Agency, and the trucking company we were able to handle the call with no danger to the citizens or the environment.”

As our Atlanta semi-truck accident attorneys know, tractor trailers can be extremely dangerous on the roads. Their sheer size and power makes them more hazardous than normal cars or trucks. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 12 to 13 percent of all fatal traffic crashes involve a large truck, even though they represent a small percentage of the vehicles on the roads. But, even more dangerous, they also often carry hazardous materials, as was shown in last week’s accident on Georgia’s Highway 29, between Highway 316 and Circle Road in Gwinnett County.

trailer (born1945).jpgShortly before noon last Monday a white Jeep Cherokee and a tractor trailer hit head on. As a result the driver of the tractor trailer lost control and the vehicle overturned. A bystander thankfully pulled the driver of the tractor trailer out of the vehicle to safety. According to Gwinnett County Police Officer Cpl. Jake Smith, “Of course things could’ve gone much worse than they did. It was a pretty heroic action on his part.” Both he and the driver of the Jeep Cherokee were taken to Gwinnett Medical Center in Lawrenceville, but fortunately neither had life threatening injuries.

However, the tractor trailer was carrying 8,500 gallons of gasoline, according to NBC 11. Five fire engines, four ambulances, and one Haz-Mat unit responded to the crash. About 100 to 250 gallons of gasoline leaked out of the tanker initially. Fire crews worked throughout Monday afternoon to try to keep the fires contained–a very serious concern with this type of accident. Gwinnett County Fire and Emergency Services officer Lt. Eric Eberly said, “If any kind of ignition lights the fuel that’s on the ground, it could potentially explode the fuel that’s inside the tanker.” Lt. Eberly said by Monday evening several thousand gallons of gasoline had seeped into the nearby creek. Crews continued to work to try to dam the creek and contain the spill, according to news reports. By 9pm, the diligent and hardworking crews had recovered 2,000 gallons of gas from the creek and another 1,000 from the tanker.

Still the Department of Transportation said work would not be complete until last Thursday. Crews from the Environmental Protection Service and SWS Environmental Services were working on continuing the clean up from this terrible tractor trailer accident.

It seemed from the reports that the driver of the Jeep, and not the tractor trailer, was to blame for the original accident. Cpl. Smith reported that the Jeep crossed the center line and hit the tanker. Regardless of who is to blame in this particular incident, accidents involving tractor trailers have heightened risks. Drivers of the tractor trailers, but also drivers of cars sharing the road with them, must be careful. If you have been injured in an accident involving a tractor trailer, the experienced Atlanta truck accident attorneys at Sammons & Carpenter ( may be able to help. To contact one of our experienced attorneys, please call 404-991-5950 or fill out our confidential case evaluation form to schedule a free consultation.

See Our Related Blog Posts:

Woman Killed by Tractor Trailer on I-95

New Rule Aimed at Preventing Tractor-Trailer Truck Driver Fatigue and Making Highways
Safer in Atlanta, Georgia

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The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) recently announced a new rule that reduces the maximum number of hours a tractor-trailer truck driver can work in a week. Under the old rule, tractor-trailer truck drivers could work up to 82 hours within a seven-day period. The new rule limits a driver’s work week to 70 hours, reducing the maximum number of hours a tractor-trailer truck driver can work within a week by 12 hours. The rule also limits the number of hours a tractor-trailer truck driver can drive per day to 11.

Additionally, the new rule contains the following requirements:
• Tractor-trailer truck drivers cannot work more than eight hours without taking a break of at least 30 minutes.
• Tractor-trailer truck drivers who work the maximum number of hours per week must take at least two entire nights of rest between the hours of 1:00 a.m. and 5:00 a.m.
• Tractor-trailer truck drivers have an option to get a “34-hour restart” by asking for at least 34 consecutive hours off-duty once during every seven-day period.

Companies and drivers that commit violations of this rule could face severe penalties. For example, Trucking Companies that allow drivers to exceed the 11-hour daily driving limit by 3 or more hours could be fined $11,000 per offense and the drivers themselves could be fined up to $2,750 per offense. Commercial tractor-trailer truck drivers and companies are required to comply with this rule by July 1, 2013.

Every year, the Bureau of Transportation Statistics reports an average of over 300,000 crashes on our nation’s highways involving large tractor-trailer trucks. Over 600 of those crashes involve fatalities. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood praised this new rule, noting that “truck drivers deserve a work environment that allows them to perform their jobs safely. This final rule will help prevent fatigue-related truck crashes and save lives.”

Improving Tractor-Trailer Technology

Attempts are also being made to improve the technology used within the tractor-trailer truck industry and with other commercially driven vehicles. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has developed the Truck Multiplexing (Truck Mux) project to better equip tractor-trailer truck drivers with communications and technology between the tractor and the trailer, because tractor-trailer accidents frequently occur due to a loss of control between the two units.

The NHTSA has also made other suggestions (such as advancing tractor-trailer truck lighting, improving tractor-trailer truck brakes and installing both rear and side object detection on tractor-trailer trucks) in an attempt to decrease the number of technological issues that can cause a tractor-trailer truck accident.

If You Are Involved in a Tractor-Trailer Truck Accident

If you or a loved one is involved in an accident involving a tractor-trailer truck, you should obtain the following information as soon as safely possible after the accident:
• License plate number of all vehicles involved;
• Any company names or identification information on the cab and trailer;
• Driver information including name, driver’s license number, and insurance information;
• Insurance information for the truck and trailer owner;
• Length of skid marks, if visible;
• The condition of the tractor-trailer truck’s tires;
• Road conditions at the time of the accident; and
• Names and contact information of any witnesses.

In addition to gathering the above information:
• Take photographs of all vehicles involved and of the scene of the accident;
• Seek medical attention immediately;
• Obtain a police report, including the name of the investigating officer; and
• Contact a qualified tractor-trailer truck accident attorney as soon as possible.

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