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The Arizona Republic has reported on a deadly commercial truck crash north of Phoenix, AZ that killed 3 motorcyclists and injured 6 others. This in one of several deadly tractor trailer crashes across the country in just days, including a horrific eighteen wheeler accident in Kentucky that killed at least 11 church members.

Initial reports suggest the truck driver was doing paperwork while driving and not paying attention.


From The Arizona Republic:

Investigators are searching for answers in a fiery crash that killed three motorcyclists and injured six others when a commercial truck plowed into the back of the group in north Phoenix.

In what police described as a "horrific accident," eight motorcycles carrying nine people were stopped at the intersection of 27th Drive and Carefree Highway on Thursday afternoon when the truck barreled through, pinning three bodies underneath before bursting into flames, police said.

Witnesses described a chaotic scene where many tried to help until rescuers arrived.

"I grabbed all the water I could and took blankets because there were bodies everywhere. It was horrible," said Lynn McDowell, an employee of a nearby Walgreen’s drugstore.

Three people were pronounced dead at the scene. Six more were in critical condition, including a veteran Phoenix fire captain who was taken into surgery Thursday afternoon, said a Phoenix Fire Department spokesman. A medical helicopter landed at least twice to transfer victims to the hospital.

The truck driver and fire captain were not immediately identified. Identities also were pending late Thursday on the other victims in the crash.

"As a motorcycle officer and motorcycle rider, I have never seen such a horrific accident," Phoenix Police Chief Jack Harris said.

After the truck hit the motorcycles, the truck burst into flames and hit a sport-utility vehicle, a pickup and a sedan that were in front of the motorcycles. No one in those vehicles was injured, said Phil Dyer, a spokesman for the Daisy Mountain Fire Department, which also responded to the crash.

Afterward, the Blue Sky Sanitation truck was smoking, and popping could be heard before the fiery explosion. Witnesses saved at least two people who were near the truck by pulling them to safety.

At least 50 firefighters and two ladder crews responded to the scene. Dozens of onlookers gathered around the wreckage.


Krukoff said she talked to the truck’s driver.

"He was in shock," she said. "I didn’t smell no alcohol. He told me he wasn’t paying attention, just shuffling with his paperwork."

Our thoughts and prayers go out to all those involved in this horrific tragedy and also to their family members, friends and neighbors. That this tragic crash could have been avoid makes the suffering that much worse.

How could this truck driver have been doing paperwork while driving an 80,000 pound rig down the highway?

All motorists — and especially semi truck drivers with 80,000 pound rigs — are supposed to be alert and leave enough room in front of them to be able to avoid crashes like this one. Now, I agree that the vast majority of truckers out there are safe, but even a few bad apples give all the other tractor trailer drivers a bad name.

Nationwide, large trucks (known as tractor trailers, semi trucks, eighteen wheelers, diesel, big rigs, or commercial trucks) make up only about 3% of the vehicles on the road. However, they account for far more traffic fatalities. For example, in Missouri, semi truck crashes make up as much as 15% of traffic deaths. In Illinois, tractor trailer crashes cause more than 10% of traffic deaths.

Within the last several weeks, a semi truck crossed the median in Kentucky killing at least 11 church members in a van, a tractor trailer caused a massive 50 car pile up on Interstate 80 in Wyoming, an eighteen wheeler crashed into the back of a Greyhound bus near Bowling Green, a truck driver slammed into a woman’s parked vehicle while he was watching streaming porn on a laptop while driving. A truck driver slammed into the back of a passenger van in Indiana. A semi truck crashed into a parked vehicle in Texas. Late last year, a trucker never even hit his brakes before crashing into a minivan stopped in traffic and killed a three-year-old boy.

Why do crashes like this keep happening? The most likely answers are distracted driving and fatigue, although it appears weather may have been factor in the Wyoming pile up.

Earlier this year, the federal government enacted regulations to crack down on distracted driving by truck and bus drivers. A study by Virginia Tech’s Transportation Institute found that distracted truck drivers are 23 times more likely to be involved in a crash or a close call.

Driver fatigue is also a particularly dangerous — and completely preventable — cause of trucking accidents. Nearly 15 years ago, the NTSB issued a report warning of truck driver fatigue dangers.

The NTSB found that trucker fatigue was a contributing factor in 30%-40% of all diesel truck accidents. The NTSB found that proper sleep patterns are imperative for truck driver safety. Truckers must get 8 hours of continuous sleep after driving for 10 hours or after being on duty for 15 hours for proper safety.

The NTSB has also issued a warning that truck drivers should also be screened for a medical condition called sleep apnea.

Sleep apnea denies people the rest they need, and it has been found to be a factor in incident involving every transportation mode, NTSB Chairman Deborah Hersman said in letters.

Too many people have been killed by semi truck crashes and trucking accidents.

The National Transportation Safety Board ("NTSB") lists the following as some of the most common causes of big rig accidents:

  • Poor Driver Training

  • Driver Fatigue (Tiredness)

  • Speeding

  • Overloaded Trucks

  • Oversized Trucks

  • Brake Failure

  • Poor Driving Conditions

  • Driver Inexperience

  • Failure To Yield The Right-Of-Way

  • Driving Under The Influence of Alcohol Or Drugs

  • Aggressive, Dangerous Or Reckless Driving

  • Mechanical Failure (Or Improper Maintenance)

  • Defective Parts (Such As Defective Steering Or Brakes)

Truckers and trucking companies must be mindful of each of these trucking accident causes.

Driving an 80,000 tractor trailer covering hundreds of thousands of miles is an awesome responsibility. Truckers and trucking corporations must be vigilant about safety.

Learn more about trucking accidents and become a fan of Langdon & Emison on Facebook.

One Comment

  1. Gravatar for molly

    My husband doesn't drive a truck, but drives a lot, and is always fidgeting with his technology....his iphone, his bluetooth, his GPS drives me crazy and we fight about it constantly. I'm showing him this article because his line is always, "everything's under control." Which it clearly isn't, to me. The amount of technology now in vehicles has gone from CD players to out-of-control, and it scares me to be on the road at any time. This is our next major public health threat, I believe.

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