An Interstate is never a safe place for pedestrians, but there are times when people do need to get out of their vehicles. Police and first responders, for example, get out of their vehicles in order to write tickets or help after crashes. When those officials do so, however, they take steps to ensure other motorists are aware. They can block lanes or even close roads, if necessary to protect themselves and the driver they're assisting.
The point is, while an Interstate is a dangerous place for pedestrians, they nevertheless have to be there on a pretty routine basis. Traffic cops. EMTs. Road construction workers. People dealing with disabled vehicles. People trading insurance information after accidents. Hitchhikers. This is a simple fact that all drivers need to be on alert for.
Tragically, a 44-year-old Baton Rouge man was recently killed by a truck as he walked back to his car after assisting the victims of a previous crash. If he hadn't stopped to help, he wouldn't have found himself in the path of an 18 wheeler.
According to the Advocate, the driver of a Mitsubishi was probably under the influence of drugs or alcohol when he got on I-110, headed in the wrong direction. The Mitsubishi crashed into a Ford in a head-on collision at I-110 and Government Street. Two cars stopped to help.
The 44-year old was headed back to his car when a Freightliner 18-wheeler rammed into the crashed cars, pinning the Good Samaritan between two vehicles. He was pronounced dead on the scene.
How could a professional truck driver fail to notice four vehicles before crashing into them?
The first crash occurred in the early morning hours, requiring the road to be closed between 3:30 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. Baton Rouge Police Department told the Advocate that they saw no evidence the Freightliner driver was speeding or drunk. What could have happened that prevented the truck driver from noticing the four vehicles stopped on the Interstate?
We don't have any additional information about this incident, but it's all too likely that the truck driver was asleep. Federal law limits the number of hours commercial drivers can work before taking a substantial break, but the trucking industry is notorious for pressuring truckers into working longer hours in order to get their loads to market sooner. Falsified time logs are, unfortunately, commonly discovered after trucking accidents.
We hope that this accident won't deter other Good Samaritans from stopping to help after car accidents. Trucking companies would do better to ensure their drivers get adequate sleep -- when they're not on the road.