A tanker truck, carrying a tank on its flatbed, struck several vehicles on the southbound side of Interstate 15 in Escondido on Saturday November 3, 2012 at approximately 1 PM, near the Via Rancho Parkway exit. A 47-year-old Escondido resident was driving a Freightliner tanker truck at approximately 45 to 55 miles per hour when he noticed that traffic was beginning to stop due to a sudden back-up on the Via Rancho Parkway off-ramp. The truck driver attempted to brake, but was not able to stop the large tanker before it struck the rear of a Chevrolet Malibu sedan.
The tanker truck struck the Malibu hard enough to cause a chain reaction, whereby two additional cars, a Pontiac G6 and a Toyota Solara, were struck. In addition, the Malibu became wedged underneath the tanker truck, trapping the driver inside the sedan. To make matters worse, the tanker truck then caught fire. Luckily, the Escondido Fire Department quickly arrived to put out the flames. Bystanders, sheriff’s deputies, and firefighters then removed the seriously injured driver from the Malibu. He was transported by air to the University of California San Diego Medical Center for treatment.
The occupants of the Pontiac G6, two 21-year-olds and a 1-year-old child, sustained moderate to minor injuries, and were transported to Palomar Hospital. The Toyota Solara’s sole occupant was uninjured.
The trucking industry is a vital part of the U.S. economy, generating over $250 billion each year. Unfortunately, because trucking is such a large part of the economy, many truckers are forced to work long hours without proper sleep and with too many deliveries to make. Drivers are sometimes encouraged to drive at faster speeds and for longer hours by the compensation systems in place. At times, inadequate training, due to a desire to get new drivers on the road as soon as possible, may also be a factor in a crash. Studies have shown that in over 80% of accidents involving tractor trailers, the truck driver is at fault.
While accidents involving trucks are much less frequent than those involving cars and other regular automobiles, the consequences of a trucking accident are often more serious. The simple fact that a tractor trailer is many times heavier and larger than the average car, or even sport utility vehicle, means that a tractor trailer can do a large amount of damage to the car and its occupants. In addition, due to the size of tractor trailers, they are also more likely to involve more than just one vehicle as well, like the recent accident in Escondido.
A tractor trailer’s size is not the only thing that makes them dangerous. A small percentage of tractor trailers haul dangerous or deadly cargo all over California. Truck cargo can range from chemicals like chlorine gas, which may escape if the tank’s hull is breached during a crash and can be deadly if breathed in, to flammable materials, like gasoline or propane, which may catch fire in the event of a crash. In these cases, the injuries immediately caused by the crash can be minor compared to the harm that may result from a tank breach.