Changing lives with small failures: distracted truck drivers

The phrase “changing lives” sounds positive: people making big choices, and overcoming adversity.

I’m seen too many lives changed by just the opposite.

A failure that seems small—like a distracted truck driver taking eyes off the road—can responsible for changing lives.

“I’m really not sure what happened”

On a sunny fall afternoon in Washington, Andy was driving home from his high school cross-country practice.

He was (legally) stopped with his turn signal on, when his vehicle was hit from behind by a big semi-truck and trailer.

Andy was pushed into an oncoming car.

His own car burst into flames. He was severely burned.

distracted truck driver-crash_Coluccio-Law-Washington
This is Andy’s actual vehicle after the truck crash.

The truck driver could not give any credible explanation for why he didn’t see Andy’s car.

He told police he was really “not sure what happened.” He told one bystander that he was looking at Mt. Rainier because of its beauty.

Neither is a good excuse for any driver, let alone a professional commercial motor vehicle operator. His failure caused a catastrophic crash, and left a teenager permanently scarred.

“I didn’t see them at all”

A couple years after Andy’s crash, on another clear fall day, another truck driver hit another car (legally) stopped and signaling a turn.

The semi-truck and trailers crashed into the car while it was turning into a Washington State campground.

The truck driver was distracted: he just didn’t see the car until he was nearly right on top of it. The heavy truck pushed the car into the oncoming lane, where a heavy-duty pick-up truck smashed into it.

Two of the passengers were killed.

The third was seriously and permanently injured.

A distracted truck driver caused two deaths, and left a survivor to live with many disabilities.

Failure of a Distracted Truck Driver

Professional truckers failed to perform the main task required when driving: giving 100% attention to the safe operation of the vehicle.

Distracted driving is changing lives. Both of the drivers who caused these crashes would turn back the clock and start these fatal days over, if they only could.

But the damage is done.

The failure to focus 100% of your attention on driving isn’t such a small failure, after all.


An extended version of this post appears on Legal Examiner.



Observant readers might have noticed that we didn’t refer to these two entirely preventable crashes as “truck accidents.”

Here’s why we say crash, not accident.


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