An 18-wheeler collided with a pickup truck on Highway 15 in Mississippi earlier this week, sending the driver of the pickup to North Mississippi Medical Center and his 12 year old passenger to Memphis' Lebonheur Children's Medical Center for treatment.
An investigation into the cause of the truck accident is still ongoing. Initially, police believe that the truck driver was unable to slow down or stop in time behind another vehicle that was turning and swerved into oncoming traffic, hitting the pickup head-on.
The conditions of both the pickup driver and child are unknown after the head-on collision with the semi-truck.
Because of their weight and size, the stopping distance or braking distance required of a semi-truck can be substantially greater than that of a passenger car or truck. Add to that cargo loads of varying sizes and differing speed limits on the roads travelled and the stopping distance for a truck can change from one destination to the next.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has created new braking standards for commercial trucks that began a phase-in process in 2012. The goal is to reduce the needed stopping distance for a truck by 30 percent. Before the change, a truck traveling 60 mph required 355 feet to come to a complete stop. Under the new regulations, a semi travelling at 60 mph must be equipped to come to a full stop within 250 feet.
The change is expected to save over 200 lives each year and prevent over 300 serious injuries caused by truck crashes and motor vehicle accidents.
Regardless of what the regulations as to braking distance require, professional truck drivers are required, just like all other drivers, to maintain control of their vehicle. When a truck driver causes serious injury or even the death of another, he or she may be held responsible by law enforcement as well as the victim and his or her family.
Source: WTVA.com, "UPDATE: Child airlifted following accident," Mel Carlock, March 13, 2012
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