Tractor-trailer crashes are all too common in Florida, especially in and around the St. Petersburg area. While most of the time, tractor-trailers successfully navigate their designated routes without incident, due to the large amount of traffic that regularly traverses the highways in the state of Florida, it can be challenging at times to share the road with these large vehicles. It can also be scary when you realize the weight of any impact with a tractor-trailer can be devastating.
TRACTOR-TRAILERS AND I-275
On a Sunday morning in July, the Florida Highway Patrol reported that two different tractor-trailer crashes occurred near I-4, causing crazy delays all the way back to I-275. One truck jack-knifed around milepost 44 at about 8:00 in the morning. Almost simultaneously, yet separately, a truck headed in the opposite direction crashed into a concrete barrier. Both northbound and southbound lanes were closed with the exception of one lane.
In another tractor-trailer accident, also involving I-275 and the westbound I-4 ramp, the front of a flatbed crashed, with the tractor and its front wheels hanging over the barrier wall. All I-275 southbound lanes were blocked for a time.
THE BAND ADRENALINE MOB
Also in July, the New York heavy metal band, Adrenaline Mob, was traveling to a concert in Saint Petersburg when the band’s RV was struck by a tractor-trailer. The tractor-trailer lost control when it veered off I-75. The band had pulled the RV off on the side of the road to change a flat tire. Nine people were in either the RV or the band’s van. The van was pulling a covered trailer with the band’s equipment loaded in it. One person was killed and six others were taken to area hospitals in either serious or critical condition. David Zablidowsky, known as David Z, the band’s bassist who succumbed to his injuries from the crash, had been a long-time player in Tampa’s Trans-Siberian Orchestra. The accident was near Micanopy on the southbound side. The semi driver was not injured.
WHY ARE THERE SO MANY TRACTOR-TRAILER CRASHES ON FLORIDA HIGHWAYS?
According to Florida’s Integrated Report Exchange System statistics for 2016, there was a total of 41,233 commercial vehicle crashes. So far in 2017, that number is 27,166. Of those involved in tractor-trailer crashes, the people most affected are those driving passenger vehicles. Why? The large size of tractor-trailer rigs means their impacts when control is lost can be significant. They are more massive and it also takes them longer to be able to stop in accident situations. As well, an undercarriage beneath the trailer provides a space where accident victims can get trapped.
Pure exhaustion is another reason for the tractor-trailer crashes. While federal regulations are in place to prohibit tractor-trailer drivers from driving too many hours at one time without a break, the stress and strain on these drivers can spur them on to their destination despite the lack of sleep and rest they may get.
Given the number of Florida ports and the number of access roads through the state to destinations beyond that products must travel, it is essential that tractor-trailers be able to operate safely throughout Florida. Interstate 75 plays an important role in Florida’s commerce, as cargo travels into Florida and throughout the rest of the United States. U.S. Route 1 runs along Florida’s east coast, 545 miles from Key West into Georgia. Interstate 4, I-275, and I-95 also play significant roles in maneuvering traffic through the Sunshine state.
Driving alongside tractor-trailers is a necessary part of navigating the roads of this state and this country, and we are grateful for their services, transporting goods across the country. Every driver needs to be aware of their space and place on the roadways, ensuring to heed all traffic signs and weather conditions that might be affecting roadways. If you or a loved one happen to become involved in an accident involving a tractor-trailer, the results could be life-changing. Seek the advice and counsel of a personal injury attorney to help you prepare for potential legal action, if necessary.