Early Morning U.S. Mail Truck Collision with Tanker Closes I-64

HUNTINGTON WV – The Huntington Police Department is investigating a crash involving two, tractor-trailer trucks which shut down all westbound lanes of Interstate 64 in Huntington.  Dispatchers received word of the crash at about 4:30 a.m. Thursday, October 17, 2013.

The crash involved a box truck owned by the U.S. Mail and a tanker truck carrying an unspecified substance. Dispatchers said the box truck overturned due to the crash’s impact and was leaking fuel from its tanks. One of the trucks also hit a bridge and knocked off a chunk of its concrete wall.
mail truck on side
The accident happened at the 9.5-mile marker, located just east of the 5th Street Road exit in Huntington. Officials were diverting westbound traffic off the Hal Greer and 29th Street exits.
Thankfully, there were no reported injuries, and unlike a May 2013 accident on I-64 in Kentucky involving a mail truck which caught fire as a result of a fuel leak, the contents of this US Postal Service truck were not destroyed and was transferred to another truck by Postal Service crews.  Even so, it is a good idea to follow up with any mail sent to or from this area recently if it is of any great importance.

New trucking regulations address the problem of extreme tiredness in truckers:

Both of these of these truck drivers involved in this 4:30 a.m. crash illustrate the types of drivers that are most at risk for driving error due to drowsiness.  In an effort to increase safety on our roadways and reduce driver fatigue, a leading factor in large truck crashes, the Department of Transportation has updated its mandates for breaks and rest periods for long haul truckers.

Tired drivers are far more likely to cause accidents than those who are well rested and driving in compliance with federal trucking guidelines. Tired drivers may also enter a dangerous state known as “highway hypnosis” in which dozens of miles may pass that they do not even remember. Whether a driver falls asleep at the wheel or is inattentive due to lack of sleep, the resulting accidents can lead to catastrophic injuries and wrongful death.  Under the new guidelines, drivers will have to stick to a schedule that requires taking a 30-minute break in the first eight hours of driving, cut the maximum workweek to 70 hours from 82, and “restart” those 70 hours with a 34-hour break once a week.

We are all guilty of driving while drowsy:

We all recognize how dangerous driving under the influence or texting while driving is, but driving while drowsy can be equally dangerous. Sleepiness can cause slower reaction times, blurred vision, lapses in judgment, and delays in processing information.  Most of us are not professional truck drivers, but drowsy driving affects us all.

Tips for avoiding becoming a drowsy driver statistic:

  • Get a good night’s sleep (seven to nine hours) before you begin your trip.
  • Plan breaks into your driving schedule; don’t be so rushed to arrive at your destination that you can’t stop for rest.
  • Stop every 100 miles or two hours for a walk, run, snack, or drink.
  • Bring a buddy who can share the driving.
  • If you think you could fall asleep, pull over and take a 15-20 minute nap.
  • Avoid driving at times you would normally be asleep.
  • Avoid alcohol and medicines that cause drowsiness.

Specific At-Risk Groups for Drowsy Driving:

  • Young people-especially males under age 26
  • Shift workers and people with long work hours-working the night shift increases your risk by nearly 6 times; rotating-shift workers and people working more than 60 hours a week need to be particularly careful
  • Commercial drivers-especially long-haul drivers – at least 15% of all heavy truck crashes involve fatigue
  • People with undiagnosed or untreated disorders-people with untreated obstructive sleep apnea have been shown to have up to a seven times increased risk of falling      asleep at the wheel
  • Business travelers-who spend many hours driving or may be jet lagged

Fast Facts about Driving while Fatigued:

  • 100,000 crashes each year are caused by fatigued drivers
  • 55% of drowsy driving crashes are caused by drivers less than 25 years old
  • Being awake for 18 hours is equal to a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08%, which is legally drunk and leaves you at equal risk for a crash
  • In 2010, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety released a study that shows that fatigue is a factor in one in six deadly crashes; one in eight crashes resulting in hospitalization, and one in fourteen crashes in which a vehicle was towed.
  • The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that drowsy driving results in 1,550 deaths, 76,000 injuries, and more than 100,000 accidents every year.
  • Caffeine can increase alertness for several hours, but you will still need adequate rest if you want to prevent fatigue related errors.

Warning Signs that it is time to pull over:

  • Difficulty focusing, frequent blinking, heavy eyelids.
  • Trouble keeping your head up.
  • Drifting onto rumble strips, swerving in your lane.
  • Inability to clearly remember the last few miles driven.
  • Missed exits or traffic signs.
  • Repeated yawning.
  • Feeling restless or irritable.

Before we launch into the fall and winter holidays, we need to consider the potential impact of driving while exhausted could have on our own safety, our families, and other drivers sharing the road with us.

Working with you to keep our families safe — The Robinette Legal Group, PLLC, Morgantown Personal Injury Attorneys serving the state of West Virginia.  We have vast experience handling truck accident claims.  If you need help with a motor vehicle collision insurance issue, call us today at 304-594-1800 or after hours, 304-216-6695.

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Source:  The Herald Dispatch, “Major truck crash closes I-64 Westbound” by Curtis Johnson, http://www.herald-dispatch.com/breaking/x1084575914/Major-truck-crash-closes-I-64-westbound, October 17, 2013

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