In one second, eleven lives were lost. That’s how long records show a call made by driver Kenneth Laymon lasted before he crashed his semi-truck into a van carrying a group of twelve Mennonite family and friends to a wedding in Iowa. The accident, which occurred on March 26, 2010 in Munfordville, KY, killed the driver of the truck. Of the van’s occupants, ten were killed, with two small children the only survivors. The tragedy resulted in an extensive investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and inspired the strictest recommendation on trucking and cell phone use that the agency has made to date.
Most of us are too familiar with the uncomfortable feeling of our car shuddering around us as a semi-truck barrels past on the freeway. Even the largest SUV can feel like a tin can when measured up against an 18-wheeler. Therefore, it’s hard to not feel concern when sharing the road with such large and powerful vehicles. Understandably so, as in 2009 alone the U.S. Department of Transportation reported about 124,000 large trucks and buses were involved in crashes. Nearly 50,000 of those crashes involved injuries, and about 3500 were fatal. Knowing the inherent potential for danger, city and state governments have taken steps to make the roads safer for passenger and commercial vehicles alike. The first step, of course, is ensuring that the persons driving these large commercial trucks are competent to be behind the wheel.