A tractor-trailer hauling hazardous and highly flammable chemicals fatally struck a pickup truck in Robeson, North Carolina (NC), on the afternoon of December 7, 2017. The deadly wreck happened just outside of Lumberton on Highway 72 near the intersection with Cold Storage Road.
Officials from the county sheriff’s office and the State Highway Patrol responded to the crash a little after 1:20 pm. Investigators determined that the semi driver caused the fatal collision after running off the side of the road, overcorrecting his steering and crossing the double yellow line in the center of two-lane Highway 72. The impact sparked a fire fed by the acetone and methanol in the trailed of the 18-wheeler. The flames and fumes were considered so dangerous that officials ordered a temporary evacuation of nearby homes and businesses.
The commercial truck driver died at the scene. A 1-year-old in the pickup also lost his life, while the toddler’s mother survived with serious physical and burn injuries.
News reports do not contain details on why the tractor-trailer operator lost control of his big rig. Research published by the journal IATSS Research on June 20, 2017, indicates that
- Drivers are more likely to overcorrect or oversteer when ill, under fatigue and fallen asleep compared to normal physical conditions.
- Driver characteristics [like age and experience] and speed limit play a major role in overcorrection or oversteering of vehicles.
Whatever causes a collision like this one in Robeson County, the results are likely to be serious. During 2015, the North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) recorded 9.879 crashes in which overcorrection or oversteering played a role. Those wrecks resulted in 129 deaths and 4,058 injuries.
Crashes involving tractor-trailers are also a danger to the lives and health of all people on North Carolina roads and highways. The 2015 statistics compiled by the state’s DMV show 4,236 wrecks with big rigs, leading to 57 deaths and 1,142 injuries.
Commercial truck drivers, especially those transporting hazardous materials, have high duties to keep their large, heavy vehicles on the road and under control. This tragedy on Highway 72 near Lumberton illustrates some of the worst that can happen when a big rig operator fails to meet those duties. The grieving family of the young boy who died in the collision and the toddler’s mother should have strong grounds for filing insurance claims. Working closely with a caring and experienced Carolina wrongful death and personal injury attorney will help the victims recover financially from this terrible crash.