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Firefighter crushed under tractor trailer speeding in freezing rain in Indiana

A tractor trailer accident on an icy interstate highway in Indiana underscores the importance of the rule requiring drivers of commercial vehicles to exercise “extreme caution” in hazardous weather conditions.

On I-74 in Indiana, a firefighter was suffered a crushed pelvis, broken leg, and multiple internal injuries when he was struck and pinned under the rear drive axle of a tractor trailer as it came to a rest in the soggy ditch of the icy interstate. Police said the accident happened while I-74 was covered with ice after freezing rain fell. Sheriff Ken Campbell added: “Emergency responders are put at an unnecessary risk by motorists who insist on driving too fast in these road conditions.”

49 CFR 392.14 requires:

Extreme caution in the operation of a commercial motor vehicle shall be exercised when hazardous conditions, such as those caused by snow, ice, sleet, fog, mist, rain, dust, or smoke, adversely affect visibility or traction. Speed shall be reduced when such conditions exist. If conditions become sufficiently dangerous, the operation of the commercial motor vehicle shall be discontinued and shall not be resumed until the commercial motor vehicle can be safely operated. Whenever compliance with the foregoing provisions of this rule increases hazard to passengers, the commercial motor vehicle may be operated to the nearest point at which the safety of passengers is assured.

As a truck driver client recently told me, it’s better to pull over in bad weather than to unnecesarily risk injury or death to himself or others.

Ken Shigley is a trial attorney in Atlanta, Georgia who has been listed as a “Super Lawyer” (Atlanta Magazine), among the “Legal Elite” (Georgia Trend Magazine), and in the Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers (Martindale), and is a Certified Civil Trial Advocate of the National Board of Trial Advocacy,. He served as chair of the Southeastern Motor Carrier Litigation Institute, is on the National Advisory Board for the Association of Interstate Trucking Lawyers of America, and is a frequent speaker at continuing legal education programs for the Interstate Trucking Litigation Group of the American Association for Justice. Mr. Shigley has extensive experience representing parties in trucking and bus accidents, products liability, catastrophic personal injury, wrongful death, brain injury, spinal cord injury and burn injury cases. Currently he is Secretary of the 40,000 member State Bar of Georgia.