What Can We Learn from These Seven Truck Accidents in Florida?
Have you ever felt nervous driving down the interstate when you had to pass a semi? Or worse yet, pass between two semis? Well, your raised blood pressure while driving in this scenario is probably justified. More than 19,500 accidents every year in Florida involve commercial vehicles. Across the United States, over 480,000 accidents involve large commercial trucks and over 100,000 of those involve severe injuries or fatalities. Unfortunately, an accident involving a semi-truck is more likely to involve a serious injury or death because of the weight and size of the vehicle. But what can we learn from these calamities and how can we avoid them?
- Five Children Died in a Tragic I-75 Crash
In January of 2019, a fiery crash on I-75 in Florida made headlines nationwide. A semi crossed the median on the interstate and plowed into a van from a United Pentecostal Church in Louisiana, killing 5 children heading to Disney World. The driver of the semi and the driver of another truck died. The accident involved two semi-tractor trailers, the van, and a mid-sized sedan, with a semi catching on fire.
Later, news reports revealed that the semi driver who had caused the crash already had several moving violations. He had racked up tickets in Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Virginia, and Indiana for violations including speeding, driving an unsafe vehicle, driving an overloaded vehicle, and not carrying proof of insurance. The lesson here is, unfortunately, that we can’t always avoid an accident we don’t see coming. All we can do is exercise caution around large commercial vehicles.
- Trailer Drove Up Ramp of Car Carrier
In December of 2011, a bizarre accident happened on I-95 in St. Johns County. A FedEx trailer was driving in the outside lane of the interstate behind a car-carrier trailer in the same lane. The FedEx driver tried to move around the car carrier by moving to the center lane, but it was blocked by another car. When approaching the car carrier, the FedEx driver failed to slow down enough and drove up the ramp of the car carrier.
This story has a happier ending. While the two trucks traveled on top of one another on the interstate, the car carrier driver eventually slowed downed and safely pull to the side of the interstate. Miraculously, no one was injured in the crash, although the two trucks did sustain more than $25,000 in damages. The lesson here is to always give trucks plenty of room to maneuver, especially if you’re also driving a truck.
- Truck Dangled Over Bridge After Crash
In a nightmare scenario, a traffic accident during morning rush hour left a truck precariously hanging over the edge of the JD Youngs Bridge on I-75 north of Sarasota. According to July 20, 2018 news reports, the truck driver was traveling north on I-75 when a car pulled in front of him. Trying to avoid hitting the car, the truck crashed through the bridge guardrail, leaving the cab of the truck dangling over the side of the bridge. Northbound I-75 was closed, causing massive traffic delays, but the truck driver got out safely.
What can we learn from this accident? Never pull too closely in front of a truck. A larger vehicle takes longer to stop, and this crash could have ended in tragedy.
- Four Bicyclists Sent to Hospital by Unsecured Tractor-Trailer Lift Gate
On April 30, 2019, four bicyclists were seriously injured in a freak accident involving a Florida Cancer Specialists mobile scanning tractor-trailer in Port Richey, Florida. According to news reports, the tractor-trailer was traveling east on Ridge Road when the truck’s lift gate fell open, hitting the bicyclists on the sidewalk. The tractor-trailer driver initially continued driving, not realizing that anyone had been hurt. He stopped a few blocks later to fix the truck lift. According to police, the driver admitted that he hadn’t secured the truck lift properly. While the bicyclists probably couldn’t have avoided this accident, this crash teaches us about the importance of truck drivers safely securing their loads before driving.
- Logging Truck Caused Deadly Crash in Orange County
A St. Cloud, Florida man was killed on April 8, 2019, when a logging truck pulled into his path on State Road 520 in east Orange County. According to the Florida Highway Patrol, Steven Chevalier was traveling westbound on 520 in his Buick when the timber truck attempted to turn left onto eastbound 520 from another road. The truck pulled into his path, causing Chevalier to crash into the truck, wedging his Buick under the trailer. Chevalier died because of his injuries and the driver of the timber truck was charged. While Chevalier probably could not have avoided this crash, we can see just how dangerous accidents involving trucks can be.
- Florida Woman Narrowly Avoided Death from an Unsecured Truck Load
In October of 2018, a Melbourne, Florida woman barely escaped death when an unsecured load of plywood flew into her windshield. Rebecca Burgman, 35, was driving on I-95 near Rockledge, Florida behind a truck when the sheet of plywood hit her Honda windshield at neck height. Fortunately, the plywood was wider than her car, stopping the wood from decapitating her. Burgman escaped with only minor injuries. But once again we see how dangerous unsecured truck loads can be to motorists.
- Florida Couple Killed by Logging Truck
In another tragic logging truck accident, a Florida couple was killed in September of 2018 after a logging truck pulled into the path of their car. Holly and Philip Ulsch were traveling east on Ford Road in their Toyota Tacoma just after 4am. The logging truck was traveling north on Buckhead Trail and pulled into the path of the Tacoma. Both Holly and Philip Ulsch were declared dead at the scene, leaving behind six young boys ages 8 months to 13 years old. Once again, we see how a crash involving a large commercial vehicle can lead to tragedy.
Driving Safely on the Road with Trucks
These stories of bizarre Florida truck accidents are frightening. But they all teach us to be careful and alert around commercial trucks. To safely share the road with semi-trucks, you can follow these tips:
- Give the truck extra space.
- Don’t ride along the side of a truck.
- Give a truck space to turn.
- Don’t get frustrated.
- Allow trucks to merge.
- Pay attention.
- Stay out of a truck’s blind spot.
Sometimes, however, an accident involving a truck is unavoidable. In the aftermath, figuring out who is liable, ensuring that your damages and medical bills are covered, and negotiating with insurance companies can be complicated and stressful. Your best bet is to contact an attorney with experience helping the victims of large truck accidents. At Searcy Law, we work hard to protect the rights of truck and car accident victims. When you contact us, we’ll arrange for a free and confidential consultation with one of our truck accident attorneys.