On Friday at 8:30 PM, a drunk truck driver operating a tractor-trailer caused an 11-vehicle collision that killed 3 people, including an 18-month-old girl. The accident occurred on I-83 in Lower Paxton Township, near Harrisburg. The truck driver failed to decelerate when traffic had slowed or stopped, crushing multiple vehicles in the left lane. In addition to the toddler, the other fatalities were young men in their 20s. At least seven other people were taken to the hospital for injuries.
The police report that the northbound lanes were approaching a construction zone—PennDOT is currently widening I-83 in a years-long project—which is why traffic had slowed. The truck driver was charged with homicide by vehicle, DUI, and other charges. He has been denied bail as of this morning.
The Problem of Trucker Substance Abuse
Our Lower Paxton Township truck accident attorneys often discuss the increasingly-visible problem of trucker substance abuse. Drinking, amphetamine use, and narcotics possession at the wheel are all fairly common violations on America’s highways. One international study of truck drivers found that 50% of anonymously surveyed truckers have been drunk or high at the wheel.
Behind the wheel of a sedan, a drunk driver can cause devastation and damage to multiple lives. But behind the wheel of a tractor-trailer? Drunk truckers can cause untold amounts of damage, grief, and tragedy. At least 10 people have been directly harmed by the actions of a single driver in this case—3 of them have lost their lives far, far too early.
Addressing the issue will require more than holding the individual driver accountable. Our firm has held people accountable for DUI injuries before, but we know truck accidents are about more than the actions of one person. It will require holding carriers, shippers, and an entire industry responsible for putting negligent drivers on the road without oversight or penalties.
Our hearts go out to the families of those who have been hurt or killed. We hope they get justice and answers soon.