A tractor-trailer driver has been charged with transporting an unsecured load after steel rods falling from his rig caused a fatal motorcycle crash on I-64 in Huntington, West Virginia (WV), on June 28, 2014. The accident occurred on the interstate overpass above West 17th Street. The man driving the motorcycle sustained critical injuries, and the female passenger on the bike died after being transported to a nearby hospital. It is unclear whether additional criminal charges will be filed against the trucker.
Almost every large piece of debris along the side of any highway represents an item that fell from a trailer, the bed of a truck or the roof of a car. In regards to safety -- and as a matter of state and federal law -- it does not matter whether those boxes, mattresses, building materials or tires came from commercial or private vehicles. Nor does the risk those items pose to unsuspecting drivers, bikers and pedestrians sharing the road depend on their source. Each time something falls from a vehicle, people's lives and health are put in jeopardy.
Regulations requiring people to secure loads by using tarps, bungee cords, metal straps, and cages and other enclosures have been consistently strengthened over the past two decades. As this deadly accident in West Virginia shows, however, too many drivers are ignoring those rules. In fact, National Highway Transportation Safety Administration data show that 440 Americans lost their lives in incidents involving unsecured loads during 2010.
For everyone's protection, each driver hauling any kind of cargo must make sure that no debris ends up on the road and as a potentially deadly object. As a personal injury and wrongful death attorney who has seen too many people hurt in accidents resulting other individuals not taking such precautions, I can only offer my condolences and wishes for full recovery to the two motorcyclists from West Virginia.