Truck Driver Killed By Loose Cargoby Jana Ritter - Published: 4/22/2016
Truck drivers are essentialto everyone’s lives but it’s also one of the most dangerous jobs in the U.S. and every element of safety is imperative. On Friday morning, an unexpected tragedy took a truck driver’s life when a load of steel beams came loose and crashed through the cab of his truck.
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Shawn H. Spencer, 44, of Pennsylvania was hauling a load of steel beams on US 20 just west of I-69 Friday at about 6:20 a.m. The truck belonging to Todd Berguson Trucking Inc., Arnot, PA, is listed as having a maximum load weight of 80,000 pounds. Although the exact weight of Spencer’s load is still not known, investigators say that for some reason he slammed on the brakes and caused the load of steel to come loose, then crash through the rear of the cab. No other vehicles were involved in the accident but Spencer was pronounced dead at the scene. The steel load covered the road and the Angola Police Department closed westbound US 20 for about five hours while crews cleaned up the scene and investigators began to piece together the tragic incident.
While Friday’s crash currently remains under investigation, it’s another reminder of what can happen when loads aren’t properly secured. In fact, according to a recent Federal study, as many as 440 deaths in the U.S. each year can be attributed to unsecured loads. Nearly six years ago, a Minnesota truck driver was charged when a landscaping block flew off his truck and smashed through the windshield of an oncoming mini-van, killing a 17-year old. Steven K. Batt was riding in the front passenger seat of the minivan when the landscaping block came loose from the truck, bounced off the road and smashed right through the windshield of the mini-van. The block struck Batt in the head, killing him instantly and then shot out the rear window like a missile. “They had no chance at all to avoid it,” said Steele County Sheriff Don Gudmundson.
This leads us to the question of who should be legally responsible for such incidents? In a perfect world, all truck drivers would always be careful to properly secure their cargo and prevent these tragedies from occurring at all. But unfortunately, all type of accidents happen and there are several factors that can cause cargo to come loose. The question is whether better measures can be instilled to ensure cargo is secure before truck drivers hit the road. This also raises questions about who should be liable for the damages, injuries and deaths caused by loose cargo. Should it be solely the truck driver’s responsibility to secure their loads? Or should the owners of trucks and equipment bear the burden as well?