This photograph is from the latest horrific crash in Denver you may have seen on the news. A young 18 wheeler driver was speeding on an interstate highway. He failed to stop as he approached vehicles backed up at a car wreck, rammed into the rear of one, and set off a catastrophic series of tractor trailer crashes. There were a total of 28 vehicles involved. A massive fire erupted and four people were trapped inside who tragically lost their lives. Other people suffered life-threatening injuries.
This nightmare didn’t happen in Texas — but it easily could have. Rogel Lazaro Aguilera-Mederos held a Texas commercial driver’s license, lived in Houston, and was hauling lumber to San Antonio.
The driver clearly was incompetent. He was only 23 years old and had little experience behind the wheel of a big rig. He was recklessly driving at a rate of 85 mph and had been reported for weaving in and out of congested rush-hour traffic. The speed limit for commercial trucks was restricted to 45 mph to avoid tractor trailer crashes like these.
The Denver wrecks are just the latest reminder of why we need to increase our regulations of 18 wheeler drivers and companies.
The very small trucking business owned by the driver’s brother should not have been allowed to be out on the highways. This truck tractor had prior mechanical difficulties and had caused tractor trailer crashes in other states. The driver claimed his brakes failed. When was the last time they had been inspected?
There were over 4,300 deaths and 30,000 injuries caused by tractor trailer crashes in 2016, the most recent year data is available according to statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Almost all were in the passenger car, SUV, or truck that was crashed into by the tractor trailer that can weigh more than 80,000 pounds GWVR.
The occupants of the smaller vehicle are extremely vulnerable and need to be compensated for their injuries and damages. But with increased trade and a growing population, not to mention a surge in Amazon purchases, our highways and roads are busier and more dangerous than ever.