Large trucks carry much of the commerce of the American economy. They travel everywhere from high-speed interstates like I-40 and I-75 in Tennessee to local roads and streets. They may haul everything from cows, nuclear waste or building supplies to frozen foods, honey bees and packages from internet retailers.
If you have watched traffic on a road like I-75, you also know they never stop. Whether midnight, 3:00 am or afternoon rush hour, you know a significant portion of that traffic consist of a large truck heading cross-town or across the country.
During those millions of trip, things can go wrong. Sometimes it’s a mechanical failure, a tire blows out or brakes fail. More often than not, it's human error or negligence. A truck driver is distracted and doesn't notice that traffic in front of his vehicle is slowing. He may brake suddenly or try evasive maneuvers that cause his truck to cross a lane and crash head on into other traffic or run off the road, often rolling over.
It is unclear what happened last week when a semi truck crashed into the rear of another truck on I-65 in Millersville. The crash occurred at 5 am, so it is possible that the driver had fallen asleep or nodded off momentarily at the wrong time.
The first truck was parked on the side of the interstate, so why the truck that struck it would have been on the shoulder is unknown, but it is also possible the driver could have experienced a medical emergency and lost control.
We may never know, as that driver was killed in the crash and fiery explosion that followed. Other drivers attempted to pull him out of the cab, but the flames were too intense. Too often, when large trucks strike passenger vehicles, it is the occupants of those vehicles who pay the ultimate price, but in this case, because it was another large truck, it was the truck driver who died.
These are frightening crashes, and we can only hope federal regulators speed the implementation of automatic braking systems that could protect motorists from this deadly form of negligence.