Big Rig Accidents in Colorado
Big rigs are a common sight on Colorado’s interstates and other highways. These trucks, among the largest seen on roads, travel long distances to deliver freight of all kinds. Transporting tons of cargo and traveling on 18 wheels presents dangers to drivers of other vehicles when an accident occurs. The terrain in the state and its hazardous weather conditions can lead to semi-truck crashes on major routes such as I-70, I-25, and I-76.
Blizzards and big snowstorms can occur in the wintertime and even in March and April. One snowstorm caused a pile up of four tractor-trailers among 18 other vehicles, and one time, a collision between a big rig and a fire truck caused five other semis to crash in the white out and high wind conditions. However, it doesn’t have to snow for conditions to be treacherous. Six big rigs and eight cars piled up on I-70 during a sand storm.
Big Rig Accident Numbers
Traffic Safety Facts from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration reveal that large trucks, weighing as much as 80,000 pounds, were involved in 686 crashes in Colorado involving fatalities in 2014.
The Colorado Department of Transportation (DOT) compiles data on vehicle crashes. According to its last comprehensive report, for 2012, large trucks in excess of 10,000 pounds, there were 4,333 crashes, resulting in 404 injuries and 46 fatalities that year.
Colorado Truck Law
State law requires big rigs and other commercial vehicles to use tire chains in designated areas. It goes into effect whenever weather conditions warrant it, anytime from September 1 through May 31. Drivers are notified via the web, through the media, or electronic signs on the roads. The rule applies to vehicles weighing over 26,001 pounds but can be applied to smaller vehicles if the conditions are severe enough.
The Colorado State Patrol (CSP) has issued accident prevention tips for truck drivers. These focus on being alert and having the skill to drive a large vehicle. Equipment maintenance is a priority, as is avoiding the roads when conditions are hazardous. The state also has access to a system for tracking shipments, particular those of hazardous materials. Also, drivers can be drug tested at random and annual inspections are conducted by the CSP in compliance with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
Information on notable locations is also provided by the state DOT. It reported 49 semi-truck accidents at Wolf Creek Pass on US Highway 160, from 2011 to 2015. Many of these have occurred near a scenic overlook at a switchback curve. The state has alerted drivers to prepare for the trip by checking their breaks, traveling slowly in low gear, and not riding on the brakes, which could overheat them and cause brake failure. Other safety tips include maneuvering into the right lane before navigating onto upgrade ramps among other driving tips, including staying in the center of access ramps to avoid rollovers.