A semi-truck crossed a highway median in Oklahoma and crashed into the side of a Texas college softball team’s bus in late September, killing four students and sending a dozen others to the hospital. According to multiple news sources, the driver of the semi-truck admitted to being distracted at the time of the accident, which is currently under criminal investigation by the Oklahoma Highway Patrol as a homicide.
Fort Worth personal injury lawyer Coby Wooten, who has handled serious truck and bus accident cases, understands that distracted truck drivers put themselves and everyone else sharing the road in immediate danger. After a truck driver causes a fatal accident, trucking companies and their insurance carriers won’t waste any time in getting to the scene of an accident to begin an investigation to protect the interests of the trucking company. It’s important for family members who lost loved ones in accidents to retain an attorney who can protect their rights.
In handling a truck accident or bus accident case, our law firm typically sends investigators and reconstructionists to the scene as soon as possible. It’s critical to get an accurate account before evidence disappears or people change their stories. Coby Wooten has years of experience handling complicated personal injury claims involving tractor trailers and buses.
Report: Truck driver tells police he was distracted
According to a Bloomberg News article, the accident occurred on Interstate 35 in Murray County, Oklahoma on Friday, September 26. Reports indicate that the driver of a Peterbilt tractor-trailer traveling northbound on the highway traveled across the center median as the road gently curved, crossing onto the southbound lane of the highway and striking a bus.
The bus, which was carrying students from North Central Texas College’s female softball team, was struck on its side before rolling over due to the impact of the crash. Three students were pronounced dead at the scene of the accident while another died at the hospital. Eleven other students were hospitalized with non-life threatening injuries and are expected to survive.
Bloomberg News said that accident investigators believe the tractor-trailer truck traveled straight in the median for an extended period of time before crossing onto the southbound lane of Interstate 35. Furthermore, reports indicate that the truck continued to travel straight across the highway’s southbound lanes and uproot several trees after the crash.
Disturbingly, a National Transportation Safety Board report said that a preliminary accident investigation showed there was no braking before the accident and no skid marks on the slight curve. NBC News reports that the driver admitted to being distracted and was reaching for a drink at the time of the accident.
Preventing truck accidents
Distraction.gov defines distracted driving as any action that causes a driver to take his or her hands off the wheel, eyes off the road or a cognitive distraction that takes somebody’s mind off of driving. Awareness of these distractions is especially important among truck, bus and commercial vehicle operators who typically operate larger and heavier vehicles.
Distracted driving can range from a driver looking at his or her cell phone to send a text message or call a friend, to programming a GPS or car stereo, to simply reaching for a drink or a snack. Even talking to a passenger can cause significant distraction for a driver under the right circumstances.
Furthermore, truck drivers face industry-specific rules that regulate their conduct while behind-the-wheel. For example, truck drivers can be arrested for DUI with a lower blood alcohol content (BAC) than a driver of a passenger vehicle. Additionally, hours-of-service regulations require all truck drivers to get adequate rest and limit their time on the road.
When any driver disobeys these basic safety rules, unfortunately, the risk of an accident increases. When one of these drivers is behind-the-wheel of a large truck, the chances of a catastrophic or fatal accident increases exponentially.
Coby L. Wooten, Attorney at Law, P.C. is a Fort Worth law firm with experience handling truck and bus accident cases. If you were injured or a loved one was injured or killed, contact us today. Call 866-408-0940 for a free case evaluation.