A young woman was struck and killed at a rest stop by a flying tire assembly from a passing truck, a tragic incident that highlights the dangers posed by detached tires and other truck debris.
Flying Tire Assembly Traveled 850 Feet
The victim has been identified as Margaret Maurer, a 21-year-old Tulane University student. On the afternoon of March 5, she and two other college students had stopped at a rest area off of Interstate 10 west of Pascagoula, MS. At that time, an 18-wheeler was heading westbound on I-10 when its rear tire assembly became dislodged. The flying tire assembly traveled 850 feet across the eastbound lanes and into the rest stop, where it struck and killed Ms. Maurer.
According to authorities, the driver pulled off of the interstate to investigate after realized something had detached from his truck. Police who interviewed the driver found no signs of impairment or any indication of wrongdoing on his part.
Area police have not identified the driver, who works for Dana Transports, Inc., out of Avenel, NJ, the apparent owners of the truck.
Flying Tires and Truck Debris Pose Hazard
Flying tires from trucks and other vehicles pose a significant safety hazard to other motorists and pedestrians near roadways. One estimate suggests that wheels fall off of North American vehicles at least 50,000 times per year.
In addition to flying tire accidents, crashes resulting from loose truck debris are on the rise across the country. According to a 2016 study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, unsecured or improperly secured debris falling from trucks and trailers caused more than 200,000 crashes in the United States from 2011 through 2014. These crashes resulted in approximately 39,000 injuries and 500 fatalities. The rate of such incidents had increased 40 percent since 2001, when the organization first began studying the problem.
A 2012 Government Accountability Office (GAO) study suggested that the problem might be even worse. In 2010 alone, the GAO found 10,000 people injured and 440 people killed because of accidents involving unsecured cargo.
In most cases, injuries occur when a flying tire or other truck debris strikes a vehicle directly. These incidents often cause a chain reaction of collisions with other vehicles. However, it is not necessary for a flying tire or truck debris to make direct contact with a vehicle to cause severe injuries. More than one-third of the fatalities noted in the AAA study occurred when a driver swerved to avoid hitting roadway debris and instead collided with other vehicles and obstacles or veered off of the roadway.
Trucking Industry May Be Held Accountable
While flying tire crashes and truck debris accidents represent an ongoing menace, it is a menace for which the drivers and owners of these vehicles may be held accountable. Federal law requires truck drivers to perform basic safety inspections before and after trips to prevent these incidents from happening.
In addition to mandating that tires be properly inspected and secured, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration strictly regulates the loading of commercial cargo trucks. The cargo must be properly fastened by the number of “tie-downs” appropriate for its size and weight. It must be secured in such a way as to withstand acceleration, backing, and turning forces so that it does not shift, roll, or come loose. There are also specific rules for hauling certain types of cargo, including vehicles, concrete pipes, logs and lumber, metal coils, paper rolls, intermodal containers, and even large rocks and boulders.
How a Truck Accident Attorney Can Help You
While there are laws in place designed to prevent flying tire crashes and loose debris truck accidents, these incidents still happen far too often. When they do, an injured party’s chief means of obtaining just compensation is through litigation.
But truck accidents, particularly those involving commercial vehicles, present unique challenges to an injury victim. Truck accidents typically involve multiple negligent parties who must be identified and pursued within the time allotted by law. A plaintiff is also likely to face strong opposition from large insurance companies seeking to minimize their financial exposure.
For these reasons, injured people in these circumstances often find that they might benefit from the guidance of an experienced attorney, such as the Illinois truck accident attorneys at GWC Law.
With over $2 billion recovered for our clients, GWC is one of the leading Personal Injury and Workers’ Compensation law firms in Illinois.
If you or your loved one has been injured by a flying tire or other truck debris, please contact GWC today to schedule a free consultation with one of our attorneys. Call our office at (312) 464-1234 or click here to chat with a representative at any time.