A semi-truck collided with a disabled SUV yesterday morning on I-88 in Naperville. Both vehicles erupted in flames, and the passenger of the SUV died at the scene. Investigators re still looking into the crash. This is the secondly deadly collision between a car and a semi-truck in Naperville this week; on Monday, a driver died after crashing into the back of a truck on Route 59.
Six years ago, the Illinois Department of Transportation completed a $95 million project that involved expanding Route 59 into six lanes, and creating “a ‘diverging diamond’ interchange at Interstate 88 and Route 59 that was designed to improve safety and the flow of traffic,” and for a time, it worked; per the Chicago Tribune, traffic crashes dropped 4.2% between 2015 and 2016, though the paper suggest this could have been the result of the construction ending.
Still, certain intersections around Route 59 and I-88 remain among the most dangerous in the state. This is likely due in part to the sheer number of trucks on the road, a number that has only increased since the start of the pandemic. People are shopping online more than ever, which means companies are sending out more and more trucks every day to deliver the goods. Add this to a nation-wide scramble to secure COVID-19 vaccines, and it is suddenly less surprising that Illinois had fewer accidents but 16% more traffic fatalities in 2020 than in 2019.
Understanding fatal truck accidents
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), “Seventy-four percent of deaths in large truck crashes in 2019 were in crashes involving tractor-trailers and 28 percent were in crashes involving single-unit trucks.” This makes sense: tractor-trailers and 18-wheelers are bulky, heavy, and unwieldy, even in the best conditions and with the most experienced drivers. A person in a passenger vehicle is far more likely to die than the trucker driver, as passenger vehicles afford less protection than big rigs do.
Investigators aren’t sure why the trucker in Thursday’s truck crash was unable to stop, but they are likely not surprised. Per IIHS, “Loaded tractor-trailers take 20-40 percent farther than cars to stop, and the discrepancy is greater on wet and slippery roads or with poorly maintained brakes.” Illinois has been hit with terrible weather for weeks, and Chicago saw had a three-week stretch of snow the likes of which hadn’t been seen since 1979. If the driver were acting negligently, it would compound the risk of a crash exponentially.
How to stay safe if you need to pull over
If your car stalls, your tire blows, or your vehicle becomes disabled in some other way, pulling over to the shoulder is the smart and legal thing to do. But as we have seen, shoulder collisions are still a risk. There are some things you can do, however, that could help protect you in the event you are stranded on the side of the road:
- Pull over as far to the right as you can. You don’t want to be right up against a guardrail, but you should be far enough over that you can exit your vehicle without your car door being in a traffic lane.
- Turn on your four-way flashers and use road flares. Make your vehicle as visible as possible by turning on your hazard lights and using road flares to mark your vehicle.
- Exit the vehicle and move away from it before calling for help. If you can safely get out of the vehicle and get to higher ground, you should do so. If your vehicle is hit, you want to make sure you are out of the way.
- Keep an emergency kit in the case, just in case. The kit should contain things like road flares, an external battery charger, a blanket, some hand warmers, some bottles of water and non-perishable snacks (like granola bars), and a first aid kit. Make sure to regularly restock your kit so that you know the food is still good, and the batteries still work.
At Gainsberg Law, we fight to protect the rights and futures of all injury victims. If you were hurt in a truck accident in Chicago, our lawyers want to help. please call 312-600-9585 or complete our contact form to schedule your free initial consultation today.