Wednesday morning, a semi truck full of frozen food was heading south on I-15. Around 4:30 a.m., the truck drove onto the ramp to connect to I-80 when the driver suddenly lost control of the vehicle. The truck slammed into the right side barrier wall and ignited. Fortunately, the driver and passenger were able to exit the semi before the entire vehicle was engulfed in flames. KSL’s website reported that the driver was taken to a hospital for injuries that were not life-threatening.
The accident caused the ramps for both state Route 201 and I-80 in the eastbound direction to be closed. The accident caused significant delays all the way back to Davis County. Good 4 Utah added that the tractor-trailer was a total loss. The precise cause of the driver losing control of the vehicle is still unknown.
We are glad no one was injured in this accident, although we are sorry for those whose morning was inconvenienced by this crash. Semi-truck accidents can be frightening because of the vast nature of these vehicles. A fully weighted semi-truck can weigh over 80,000 pounds. In comparison, an average car weighs 4,079 pounds. When a car goes up against a semi on the road, simple physics dictate the mass of the object will factor into the damage it does. This phenomenon is one of the main reasons many people will purchase larger vehicles to feel safe.
Statistics demonstrate that semi accidents are always more dangerous for the occupants of the other car. For example, a National Highway Traffic Safty Administration (NHTSA) report shows that in 2014, 73 percent of fatal crashes involving large trucks involved the occupants of the other vehicle. Similarly, semis and larger vehicles are more likely to cause a multiple-vehicle accident than other crashes.
The number of Utah semi-truck accidents is lower than many other locations in the country. For instance, in 2014, Texas was the state with the most semi truck accidents at 4,895. This number made up a total of 14.2 percent of all semi-truck crashes in the United States. Utah, on the other hand, made up only 0.5 percent of all semi truck accidents. While Utah does not have an overly large semi truck accident problem comparatively, any semi-truck accidents are too many. Each accident affects the lives of those involved.
However, as Utah’s population continues to increase, there will probably be even more and more semi-trucks on the road. According to the Face the Facts USA, a project by George Washington University, big trucks make up only 4.3 percent of all highway vehicles. However, these trucks are not equally distributed across all roads. Instead, certain freeways are more congested than others. In the most congested corridors, every fourth vehicle can be a semi-truck. A map created by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration demonstrates how certain areas of I-15 and I-84 will have a high average daily truck traffic rate. This map shows projections for 2040.
Thus, as semi-truck rates traveling on Utah’s highways continues to increase, learning to drive near semi trucks will be essential to stay safe. We have written articles in the past that detail how to drive safely around a semi truck. Many of these include simple, good driving behaviors like not speeding, not driving while distracted, and always wearing your seatbelt. If you have had an accident involving a semi, contact The Advocates Law Firm.