An update on the I-40 accident from last week:
Kristen Anne Belair stopped to change her tire just before 1 p.m. Wednesday alongside the eastbound lanes near the Burgaw exit, said Sgt. W.L. Thurston of the N.C. Highway Patrol. She had two children in her car, ages 10 and 8. The children were not hurt, and neither was a retired agent of the N.C. Alcohol Law Enforcement Division who stopped to assist Belair.
A trust fund has been set up to benefit Belair’s two children. Anyone can make a donation to the “Kristen Belair Memorial Fund” by visiting any Carolina First Bank branch, said Steve Allen, an attorney who helped the family set up the trust. He said he was told Belair did not have a life insurance policy.
While the actual cause of the accident hasn’t been verified, authorities believe the victim was struck by a bulldozer that was partially hanging off the side of the truck. This would have placed the truck in violation of federal safety codes.
Unfortunately, safety violations such as this may be more common than we would like to think. According to the American Association for Justice, which compiled data from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, over 28,000 motor carrier companies in the United States are in some violation of federal safety laws. These violations may include operating trucks with faulty brakes or tires, overloading the trucks, or hiring unqualified or poorly-trained drivers. Often, companies are aware of these safety violations, and do nothing to fix the problem because to do so would be too expensive.
Any of these safety concerns would be dangerous enough in a family-sized car, but the sheer size of commercial trucks makes these violations much worse. The vast majority of people who are killed in an truck-involved accident are the people in the other vehicle, so companies that cut corners on safety are putting innocent people at risk. Add the fact that truck drivers often have a lowered sense of caution, due to their safety in the bed of a large vehicle, and you have a recipe for disaster.
West Virginia and North Dakota are the most dangerous states in terms of safety violations, but no state’s roads are completely safe. Therefore, it is more imporant than ever that you drive responsibly and stay aware of your surroundings. Your life is too important to leave in someone else’s hands.