A massive pileup killed two people on Thanksgiving Day, hospitalizing around 80 more victims and destroying 140 vehicles. The crash happened in Texas and serves as a reminder of the enormous potential dangers that exist when high speeds and large trucks come together.
The pileup began when a large tractor trailer collided with an SUV on a rural Texas road. Although law enforcement authorities are pointing to a dense fog and extremely limited visibility as the primary factors in this truck accident, eyewitnesses say that traffic was still moving around 70 miles per hour.
Trucks are particularly vulnerable to accidents when moving at high speeds because it is so difficult to brake or safely maneuver to avoid obstacles when loaded with heavy cargos. When something goes wrong at highway speeds, a small mistake can easily cascade into a massive trucking wreck like this one. In this case, one collision ultimately involved numerous other trucks because the fast-moving vehicles could not respond in time.
Recognizing these dangers, California uses the lowest trucking speed limit in the nation – truckers cannot exceed 55 miles per hour, even on roads with higher limits for other drivers. Texas, on the other hand, still allows trucks to drive 80 miles per hour. Despite our careful speed limit on trucks, financial incentives in the trucking industry probably encourage truckers to cut corners to make faster trips in many cases.
When this happens, the consequences can be devastating for other drivers who find themselves in the path of a speeding truck.
Source: Christian Science Monitor, “Texas highway pileup: time to slow the ‘super truckers’ down?” Patrik Jonsson, Nov. 24, 2012