One female passenger in a car needed to be flown from the scene after a chain-reaction crash on southbound I-81 through Pulaski County, Virginia (VA), on the afternoon of December 27, 2017. The pileup started when one tractor-trailer sideswiped another semi near mile marker 94 and the exit to VA 99/Count Pulaski Drive at around 3:15 pm.
That initial impact sent both big rigs into the interstate median. The semi driven by the innocent trucker continued into the northbound lanes, which led to four other vehicles crashing.
All the injured victims were in the passenger vehicles. One was treated at the scene, while two went to a nearby hospital and were released the same day. The most seriously injured woman was taken by helicopter to Carillion Roanoke Memorial Hospital but is expected to live.
Virginia State Police charged a truck driver from North Carolina with reckless driving, possibly for making an illegal or unsafe lane change. According to data collected by the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles. Virginia roads and highways saw 4,978 wrecks involving large commercial trucks. Those collisions resulted in 3,340 injuries, and leading causes of the wrecks were lane changes (884 crashes) and passing (78 crashes).
Tractor-trailer operators are always at risk for hitting other vehicles when changing lanes or passing on the interstate. The length and width of big rigs makes seeing other vehicles moving along side them physically impossible for truck drivers in many situations. As the Utah Department of Transportation explains in a brochure on how to share the road safely with tractor-trailers, “Trucks have extremely large blind spots on both sides of the tractor, and the front part of the trailer. These blind spots then angle out from the truck. … This blind spot extends nearly 200 feet from the back of the truck.”
This explanation of why commercial truck drivers cause lane-change accidents means that big rig operators should not change lanes unless they can be sure that they have the time and space to move over without hitting another vehicle. Failing to exercise such caution can lead to a wreck and a reckless driving charge.
The injured people from the passenger vehicles may have grounds for filing personal injury insurance claims against the semi driver who sideswiped the other tractor-trailer on I-81 in Pulaski County. Consulting with a plaintiff’s attorney who has handled numerous truck crash cases will help them understand their legal options.