A Fatal Kentucky Accident Put Semi Trucks on the Front Page News
A fatal Kentucky accident put semi trucks on the front page news of Louisville’s Courier Journal newspaper. After a wreck between a semi and a passenger van left 11 dead, reporters began to dig deeper into truck accidents and found some unsettling facts.
The springboard of the reports resulted from a serious accident that occurred in the early morning hours of March 26th. A large Mennonite family and other close friends were traveling to a wedding when their van was hit head on by a tractor trailer that had broken through the cable barriers at the median across I-65. According to the article, this wreck was one of the deadliest in Kentucky since the May 14, 1988 crash in Carroll County between a bus full of my classmates from North Hardin and a drunk driver.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) created a six-person investigation team to uncover more details of this wreck. They have yet to determine an exact cause of the accident or a reason why the truck veered off course. Days later, the trucker was identified by the Courier-Journal as Kenneth Laymon who drove for Alabama based company, Hester, Inc.
According to federal reports cited in a later Courier Journal article, “Large trucks in Kentucky account for a disproportionate share of the state’s fatal crashes…” The Kentucky State Police records show that in 2008, trucks made up 4.6 percent of the state’s registered vehicles but unfortunately a disproportionate 8.9 percent of its tragic accidents. Even more disturbing is that accident statistics prove similar nationwide.
Things are being done to try to combat the problem. Recent legislation disallowed truckers to text while driving and a new federal regulation will require trucking companies that repeatedly violate driver time limits to install electronic recorders that track how long truckers spend behind the wheel according to an Andrew Wolfson article. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood sees the regulation as a way of reducing the number of accidents caused by sleeping drivers. It is suspected, though not confirmed, that the lack of brake marks could indicate dozing off could have been the cause behind the Mennonite crash. The problem however is that according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, recorders will only be required for companies flagged during on-site reviews but only about 2 percent or less of the 750,000 U.S. trucking companies are reviewed on-site throughout the year.