Truck Accident & Bridge Collapse Was Perfect Storm Of Negligence

Traffic accidents often have an immediately apparent cause. But things are not always as they first seem. Sometimes investigations reveal that the original assumption of cause was incorrect. Other times, additional contributing factors are discovered.

Michigan readers may remember a serious truck accident in May of 2013. While there were no fatalities related to the crash, the accident was serious in that it caused the collapse of a heavily traveled bridge between Washington State and Canada. A report recently issued by the National Transportation Safety Board reveals that an oversize load was the main cause of the accident and collapse (as first assumed), but distracted driving also played a role.

The trucking company was carrying an oversize load across the bridge that day. The problem was not with excess weight but rather excess height. The truck’s cargo struck beams on top of the bridge, triggering the collapse.

But there’s more. The NTSB report found that the driver of a pilot/escort vehicle traveling ahead of the truck “was distracted by her hands-free cellphone conversation, which reduced her attention to her escort duties.” Among its many consequences, distracted driving can apparently contribute to bridge collapse.

The NTSB also noted negligence on the part of the trucking company and the state Department of Transportation. Namely, it found that oversize load permits are too easy to obtain with basically no oversight by the state. Moreover, simple measuring of the load height and the bridge might have allowed the trucking company to realize that the route was poorly planned.

In the wake of an auto accident, there are a lot of details that need to be investigated and sorted out. Hiring an experienced personal injury attorney can help ensure that the facts are straight and that the negligent parties are held accountable.

Source: Roll Call, "Distracted Driving Played a Role in 2013 Bridge Collapse, Board Says," Tom Curry, July 15, 2014

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