Family Files Wrongful Death Lawsuit and Advocates Major Change to Trucking Industryby Jana Ritter - Published: 9/12/2014
Two months after 25-year old Daniel McGuire was on his way to work and was killed by a tractor-trailer crashing into his car on Highway 17 in Monterey County, his family is taking action. This week, the McGuires filed a wrongful death lawsuit alleging that the combination of a driver with only three months of experience and poor truck maintenance contributed to Daniel's death, as well as injuring seven other motorists involved in the crash.
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On July 10th a big-rig truck driver was hauling 2 tons of dirt along the mountainous northbound Highway 17, when he lost control of the tractor-trailer and plowed into 10 vehicles, including Daniel McGuire who had been sitting in traffic trying to get to work. Daniel’s father, Doug McGuire blames a combination of factors rather than the truck driver who was simply trying to earn a living as well. "This tragic death could have happened to thousands of people who travel over Highway 17”, he said.
Instead, the family is seeking major changes to be implemented by the trucking industry that involves a grading system to rate roads based on degree of difficulty and drivers on their experience level. The McGuires believe that if only the most experienced drivers were put on the more difficult routes, then not only would it help prevent more tragedies like this from occurring, but many truck drivers themselves wouldn’t have to take as much risk to simply do their job.
The family's attorney, Robert Allard said, “When you consider the challenging nature of driving big rigs over the Santa Cruz Mountain range during peak commuter travel periods, this had all the makings of a ticking time bomb." Allard explains that the truck driver only had a commercial license for three months when the brakes on two trailers failed in the crash. He is appealing to the trucking industry leaders to require new driver's license "tiers" based on the trucker's experience and agree with the McGuires that less experienced truckers shouldn’t be expected to drive with certain load weights or on steep, mountainous highways.
This is actually the second son the McGuires have lost in a fatal traffic accident and although their oldest son Andrew’s death wasn’t related to a commercial truck driver, their concern with road safety is certainly understandable. Gail-Jean McGuire says she is constantly worried about her daughter now being on the road. "I am traumatized about inexperienced truckers hauling dangerous loads," she said.
Leo Fontaine has been a commercial truck driver for most of his life and he agrees with the McGuires’ concern about inexperienced drivers. "You can't give a guy three months and expect him to go from the east coast to the west coast without something happening," he said. However, Fontaine doesn’t see how a grading system would work in the reality of the trucking industry. "That's going to be hard to do," he said.