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Yet, another tractor trailer death on our Lehigh Valley roads

Over the last year I have posted a number of times about the on-going rash of truck accidents on our Lehigh Valley roads and highways. Yesterday another horrific accident occurred on Route 309 in the Tamaqua area. A 71 year old woman was killed and her husband seriously injured in the crash. According to the Morning Call  a Hess Express tractor trailer truck failed to stop and smashed into the back of the car and pushed it into a utility van. The photos on the Call's site are very graphic. These poor people did not stand a chance. How fast was the truck travelling to cause this kind of damage on a strip of highway which is in a commercial area? How inattentive or distracted was this driver? The investigation continues and charges are pending.   Barely a week goes by without a truck crash in the Lehigh Valley these days. There can be no other explanation then this driver was distracted by something. Cell phones, satellite systems and loads of other equipment make the dashboard of these trucks look like something from star wars. Please be careful this summer as traffic in our once sleepy Lehigh Valley continues to cause congestion, and practice defensive driving techniques. Dennis F Feeley  

4 Comments

"Barely a week goes by without a truck crash in the Lehigh Valley these days. There can be no other explanation then this driver was distracted by something."

Mr. Feeley, that is quite a fallacious statement. "No other explanation"? Mechanical failure could not possibly explain this incident (or the other "weekly" crashes of which you speak). And while I suppose it would technically still be a distraction, if the driver suffered a medical event (heart attack, stroke, seizure, etc..), that could also be a cause to these "weekly" plagues on our roads.

Jumping to conclusions to fit one's own personal narrative is behavior I expect from the press or election eligible politicians, not a well respected attorney with your pedigree.

Yes, distracted drivers are a problem that needs a solution, and the debate can and should (and is) being had in the abstract. But assuming facts about this individual case is a dangerous move and should probably be avoided until the investigations have been completed.

Dear Iron Pig Lover,
You are right that the investigation is not complete and something in the order of an "act of god" is possible, but in my 30 years of experience representing injured motorist I have never represented - not once - an injured truck driver. This accident is another example. The tractor trailer driver was not reported to have been injured.
Absent a "run away" truck theory this guy had to be travelling too fast for this road. There were no reports of skid marks or evasive action prior to him squashing this car like a soda can.
Most truck drivers are professional and drive responsibly but a drive through the Lehigh Vallery Route 78 corridor could convince you otherwise.
I realize that without trucks our supermarket shelves would be be empty and they are a necessary evil.If it turns out that I am wrong I will be the first to admit it. However, I would be willing to bet that the next thing we read are the tharges which are brought for the death of this poor lady.
Dennis F Feeley

I would like to start by stating I am not a truck driver, do not personally know any truck drivers, and even had my own car sideswiped - thankfully without injury - on the Route 33 South to 78 West ramp a couple of years ago.

Whom the injured party is in an accident is not relevant to the discussion of distracted driving, which you claim - without actual knowledge - is the likely cause of this accident. It is quite obvious that truck drivers are unlikely to be injured from a collision with a car, just as it is unlikely a driver of a car would be injured from a collision with a cyclist or pedestrian. The person in the larger vehicle is safer just from the pure physics of the accident. Also, the deceased driver also caused two additional accidents into two other larger vehicles. None of these individuals suffered any injuries, according to the article cited.

I cede to your experience in what may be the likely cause of this horrific accident, but to boldly state that the "star wars" style dashboard was distracting enough to cause the accident and "[t]here can be no other explanation" still seems premature. You dismiss a "runaway truck" theory, but if we look to that first rather than the trendy "distracted driving" theory, I would imagine there would be a lack of reported "skid marks or evasive action" as well even if the truck was driving at or below the speed limit. Also, the lack of a report of skid marks does not mean there were no skid marks. All it means is that the Morning Call reporter did not report on road markings, or lack thereof, when writing this story.

But if we want to make assumptions based on things omitted from the news report, when distracted driving is suspected the media is often quick to point that out due to other recent events and the current public debate on the issue. A lack of any mentioning of distractions affecting the truck driver leads the reader to assume no one the writer spoke with suspected distractions caused this particular accident.

Was the driver being reckless? Was the driver speeding? Was there possibly a tragic mechanical failure? Are there other potential causes that we have not discussed here (medical, DUI, exhaustion, etc...)? Seems to me there are many other potential explanations for what went wrong here. To lay blame at electronic distractions as the only cause and that there is "no other explanation" as you originally stated seems, well, premature to say the least.

Thanks for your continued comment. When the final report is issued we shall see whether I jumped the gun. Perhaps my involvement in hundreds of crashes involving trucks has given me some perspective. My mother use to tell that, "there is a first time for everything". Maybe this will be it. In any event the more attention we can bring to the distractive driving issue the better off all of us on the roadways will be. Thanks again.

Dennis F. Feeley Cohen & Feeley 2851 Baglyos Circle Bethlehem, PA 18020 610-625-2100 p 610-332-2722 f feeley@nni.com www.cohenfeeley.com Blogging at: www.cohenfeeley.wordpress.com

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