Three adults and three young children were killed on I-65 near Elizabethtown, Kentucky, Saturday when they were rear-ended by a tractor-trailer. According to Fox News, the Kentucky State Police are investigating whether distracted driving may have played a part in the accident.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 15 people are killed and 1200 injured each day as a result of distracted driving which includes such things as using a cell phone, texting or eating while driving. In 2011, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) banned cell phone use for commercial tractor-trailer drivers. Because of their size and the heavy loads they carry, tractor-trailers are extremely dangerous. Their drivers are required to comply with a multitude of federal regulations, such as performing pre and post-trip inspections of their vehicles, maintaining driving logs tracking their hours driven and passing medical examinations.
All drivers are required to keep a look-out ahead and maintain a safe stopping distance. The fact that the tractor-trailer rear-ended the family’s vehicle shows the driver was either not paying attention, driving too fast or following too closely. Fox News quoted Kentucky State Master Trooper Norman Chaffins as saying, “ [The truck driver] is telling us that he saw the vehicle that was in front of him and he hit the brakes and he didn’t hit them in time. There was a reason for that and we are trying to figure out what the reason was.”
The troopers will most certainly download the truck’s ECM module, or “black box,” which will show the truck’s speed in the seconds before the crash. It will also show when the driver applied the brakes and whether there was any downshifting before the collision. Due to a number of factors, such as federal regulations and the use of technology in tractor-trailers, litigating cases involving these vehicles requires specialized knowledge.