Lake Wales crash highlights two important safety concerns

A recent 4-vehicle crash with a tractor trailer that left a 33 year old father of three dead highlights two important safety concerns.

On Monday, July 15, John Bourn was killed when his pickup truck slammed into the center of a tractor trailer. The truck, operated by transportation giant Werner Enterprises, was leaving a Citgo gas station at Hwy 27 and Penny Loop near Lake Wales, FL. As the truck attempted to cross the northbound lanes of Hwy 27, its trailer was completely blocking the northbound travel lanes, leaving Mr. Bourn without any reasonable way to avoid crashing into the trailer.

The initial crash caused a chain reaction pileup that ultimately involved 4 vehicles, including those driven by 61-year-old Emily Mills and 75-year-old Elizabeth Levy. It is unknown at this time if Ms. Mills or Ms. Levy were injured in the crash.

Mr. Bourn’s death, and the possible injuries of Ms. Mills and Ms. Levy, could have been avoided if the Werner drivers had heeded two important safety concerns. One, it is always the duty of a driver entering a roadway to give way to oncoming traffic, and to not enter into the travel lanes without ensuring that oncoming traffic is either not present, or that the oncoming traffic can stop in an assured clear distance if necessary. Too often it is the case that truck drivers simply swing their rigs out into traffic, blocking the roadway, and expecting that oncoming traffic will be able to yield in time.

Two, early reports show that the Werner truck drivers were a “tag team” of an experienced driver trainer, and an apprentice driver. While it is not known which driver was behind the wheel of the Werner rig at the time of the crash, chances are high that it was the apprentice driver, who didn’t have experience in piloting a fully loaded tractor trailer into a busy multi-lane highway. Fully loaded trucks simply don’t move as fast as one might expect, and it takes some getting used to the fact of having a 53 foot trailer behind your truck. Trucking concerns like Werner need to ensure that drivers are adequately trained prior to letting them get into situations like this.

The Lietz Law Firm has successfully litigated tractor trailer crashes where trucks have entered roadways into oncoming traffic, with their trailers blocking the road. We have also previously handled cases involving Werner Transportation.

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