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Tractor-trailers in chain-reaction fatal crashes

Though the fatal chain-reaction truck accidents last week were far from La Crosse, the terrible tragedies involved resonate for people everywhere.

Two people were killed in North Carolina in related wrecks, state troopers there said.

The first fatality occurred when an 18-wheeler driven by a 51-year-old man slammed into the rear of a moped driven by a 37-year-old woman, a trooper said. The woman was killed in the wreck.

That crash happened at about five in the morning on Friday.

The crash ruptured the large truck's fuel tanks; the tanks later caught fire, engulfing the vehicle. The truck driver escaped without being burned, according to reports.

After that accident, traffic came to a stop. That's when the second accident happened. A 46-year-old trucker braked his vehicle to a halt, but a 58-year-old man apparently didn't notice the large, stopped vehicle directly in his path.

He slammed his Honda Accord at highway speed into the back of the big rig.

"He never touched his brakes," a trooper said.

His car hurtled under the truck. The driver's wife, a passenger in the car, was killed in the accident. He escaped with minor injuries.

Why would a car slam into a much larger vehicle stopped right in front of it? We don't know why it happened in this case, but in similar accidents, the evidence shows that the driver was distracted. The driver might be too busy talking to a passenger, or might be talking on a cell phone or fiddling with the GPS, a MP3 player or the radio, and never realizes the traffic ahead that was once moving along at highway speeds has come to a complete stop.

We see again not only the tremendous dangers posed to motorists by large commercial trucks, but also by distracted drivers.

Source: "Tractor-trailers involved in 2 fatal wrecks along I-95": Sept. 17, 2011

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