Three people in a van suffered injuries requiring hospital treatment after a tractor-trailer hit their vehicle on I-85 through Oconee County, South Carolina (SC), on July 12, 2016. State Highway Patrol officers have charged the semi operator with causing the crash by making an unsafe lane change.
The force of the impact from the tractor-trailer sent the van off the interstate and onto the shoulder, where it flipped into ditch. All three people in the smaller vehicle suffered injuries. The semi driver walked away unhurt.
News reports on this Upstate South Carolina accident do not include details on why the commercial truck driver cut off or sideswiped the van. We all know, however, that 18-wheelers have large blind spots. Semi operators cannot fully trust their mirrors to give them a clear picture of whether cars and other smaller vehicles are traveling beside them. This places a high duty on truck drivers to wait to change lanes until they can be sure that vehicles they spotted earlier have moved ahead of them or dropped behind. Mistiming a lane change creates near-tragedies like this one in Oconee County all too commonly.
Investigators should definitely look into why the truck driver lost track of the traffic around his big rig. Did he become distracted by a phone call or GPS device? Had he briefly closed his eyes after succumbing to fatigue after too many hours behind the wheel? Did he simply drift out of his lane and commit to the lane change after slightly losing control? Identifying the underlying error could help instruct other commercial drivers about dangerous behaviors to avoid.