On Monday, April 27, a semi truck crashed into cars in a Washington dust storm along State Route 26. Spokane news outlet KXLY reported that a section of the highway was closed due to a semi crash “from poor visibility and blowing dust.”

It is tempting to think of a crash like this as a mere “accident”, completely unavoidable and caused simply by bad weather conditions.

But my decades of experience in truck crash law have taught me that a semi crash in the midst of a Washington dust storm may not an accident. It could have—and should have—been prevented.

Dust storm semi crashes caused by trucker failures

Professional truck drivers are just that – professionals.

They are (or should be) trained to check the weather forecast, and be prepared to adjust to conditions. They are supposed to be in communication with dispatchers and motor carriers.

If all of these systems fail, and a trucker comes upon a Washington dust storm, they should:

  • Slow down;
  • Put their truck’s hazard lights;
  • Pull off onto the shoulder of the road until the wind dies down.
Semi crash in dust storm police photo - WSP

This photo, posted by a Washington State Patrol Trooper on Twitter, shows the terrible visibility during the dust storm on SR 26 in Washington.

Some might say the semi crash outside of Dusty yesterday was “just an accident”.

I would caution that I have seen collisions like this before; they were caused by truckers who drove too fast, broke the rules, and completely disregarded safety.

Another semi crash in a dust storm

Not long ago, I represented a woman who had a broken neck, a skull fracture, and spinal cord injury after a similar bad weather crash.

In that case, the dust storm blew up along I-84