Healy Scanlon Law Firm

Icy highway sends semi and tour bus into a fatal crash

It has been a difficult winter for drivers not only here in Chicago, but throughout the United States. Even states unaccustomed to snow and ice have received both this winter, causing major cities to effectively shut down. There is little debate about the fact that extreme winter weather is resulting in more frequent and severe traffic accidents.

Icy road conditions were at least partly to blame for a deadly crash in Vermont between a jackknifed tractor-trailer and a tour bus. According to news reports, the bus driver was killed and several passengers suffered injuries as these two giant vehicles collided in a devastating truck accident

For those who may not know, the term “jackknifing” (as applied to semi trucks) describes the type of accident in which the trailer begins skidding or otherwise moving in a direction independent of the cab pulling it. In many cases, the back end of the trailer may begin to skid to the left, ultimately turning the trailer sideways and blocking the entire roadway.

That appears to be what happened in this fatal crash. Police said the jackknifed truck was stopped on the road as the tour bus was cresting a hill. The bus driver also lost control, likely due to the slippery road conditions. The bus struck the trailer as well as highway guard rails.

There were approximately 31 passengers aboard the bus, two of which suffered moderate injuries. Most other passengers suffered only minor injuries. Sadly, 59-year-old driver was killed.

Although road conditions were at least partly to blame, it is not clear whether reckless/unsafe driving was a contributing factor in the crash. We all have a responsibility to drive extra cautiously when conditions are bad. But commercial drivers must be particularly careful.

Large vehicles like semi trucks and buses are difficult to control even under optimal circumstances. When road conditions are slippery or otherwise hazardous, these highway giants can be deadly.

Source: Chicago Sun-Times, "Police: Tour bus driver dead in Vt. truck crash," Feb. 22, 2014

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