Fatal Semi Truck Accident on I-80

A fatal semi truck accident on I-80 in the high Sierra caused a complete shut down on March 18, 2011.  The big rig accident was said to be caused by whiteout snow conditions, resulting in a multi-vehicle crash.  In total, the accident involved 6 big rigs and over 40 automobiles.

Sgt. Curtis Fouyer from the California Highway Patrol said the big rig rolled over several cars during the pile up.  Unfortunately, the multi vehicle accident turned fatal as one motorist was killed when he stepped out of his truck. More than a dozen motorists were hospitalized with personal injuries, making this one of the worst California semi truck accidents of the season.

The pile up was undoubtedly started by a driver or multiple drivers failing to drive attentively in these dangerous driving conditions. The best advice for driving in bad winter weather is not to drive at all, if you can avoid it.  If you must drive in snowy conditions, make sure your car is prepared, and that you know how to handle road conditions.  Here are some safe driving tips for snowy conditions:

  • Decrease your speed and leave yourself plenty of room to stop.  You should allow at least three times more space than usual between you and the car in front of you.
  • Brake gently to avoid skidding.  If your wheels start to lock up, ease off the brake.
  • Turn on your lights to increase visibility to other motorists.
  • Use low gears to keep traction, especially on hills.
  • Don’t use cruise control or overdrive on icy roads.
  • Be especially careful on bridges and overpasses, which will freeze first causing icy road conditions, i.e. black ice.
  • Don’t pass snow plows and sanding trucks. These drivers have limited visibility and the road in front of them will be worse.
  • Don’t assume your four-wheel or all-wheel vehicle will handle all conditions.
  • If your rear wheels skid, take your foot off of the gas pedal and steer gently in the direction your rear wheels are going, i.e. if your rear wheels are sliding left, steer left and visa versa.  You may have to steer left and right several times to get your vehicle under control.  Pump the brakes gently, unless you have ABS then apply steady pressure.
  • If you get stuck, do not spin your wheels.  Turn your wheels from side to side a few times to push snow out of the way.  Use a light touch on the gas to ease your car out.  Do not get out of your vehicle until it is safe to do so.  Look for oncoming traffic or any other dangerous conditions on the roadway.  Get to a safe location immediately.

The California Department of Transportation also has a winter driving tips guide to help you avoid big rig accidents like this. If you fall victim to someone else’s negligence, our Sacramento truck accident lawyers can help.

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