We are discussing the details of a traffic accident earlier this month. Traveling on Highway 17 in Santa Cruz County, a tractor-trailer crashed into 10 other vehicles. One man was killed and several others were injured. One of the injured, a 37-year-old woman, has filed a negligence lawsuit against the truck driver and his employer.
In our last post, we left off with a description of the accident. The trucker, fairly new to the business, told reporters he was traveling too fast down a hill when he saw slow and stopped traffic ahead. His brakes failed, though. Unable to slow down, he turned his rig toward the guardrail, hoping to avoid as many cars as possible.
The truck had passed the company’s safety check that morning and a California Highway Patrol safety check less than a month ago. It will take time for investigators to determine what caused the mechanical failure — or if there was a mechanical failure at all.
That stretch of Highway 17 has a history of wrecks. In 1998, the year construction started to improve the road, there were 74 tractor-trailer accidents. In the past few years, the CHP reported, the annual count has dropped by 50 percent or more. It’s hard to say if additional changes would reduce the number even further.
A state transportation department representative indicated that additional improvements are unlikely as a result of this crash. Trucks comprise just 3 percent of all vehicles on Highway 17, the official said.
If truckers would rather not deal with the narrow, steep highway, they have very few alternatives open to them. The plaintiff’s father had one suggestion: runaway truck roads. But on a road that often lacks a shoulder and that has so many twists and turns, that may not be possible.
Source: Santa Cruz Sentinel, “Injured driver files lawsuit in Highway 17 fatal crash,” Stephen Baxter, July 18, 2014