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Highway Accident Results in Explosion - Could it Have Been Prevented?


In May of 2022, an ODOT vehicle and a dump truck were involved in a serious accident on I-77 that resulted in an explosion. Luckily, no one was killed, but both drivers involved were taken to the hospital with life-threatening injuries.

Let’s explore why this accident happened; if it could happen to your drivers, and how you can prevent it in the future.

What Was The Cause?

The ODOT vehicle pulled over on the highway to pick up trash before being struck by the dump truck. The dump truck veered off the road, without slowing down, and hit the ODOT vehicle at high speeds.

This is important to understand: accidents are not caused by weather, road conditions, or vehicles. They are caused by people and their unsafe behaviors.

Clearly, from a legal standpoint, the dump truck was at fault. The driver veered off the road for no apparent cause and struck a stationary vehicle. That being said, this was the 82nd ODOT crew that was struck in 2022, outpacing 2021.

Let’s take a look at what each driver could have done differently.

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The Dump Truck Driver

This is the low-hanging fruit. This driver could have done any number of things better.

From the video, it looks like the driver was either looking at his phone or fell asleep at the wheel.

Regardless, the driver clearly failed to Look Ahead for risk and assess the driving environment. No question about it - this driver took extreme risks and paid for it in a massive accident.

The ODOT Driver

By no means are we going to blame this driver. He was going above and beyond to pick up trash on the side of the road and sadly was hit by a reckless driver.

Even so, he was putting himself at great risk for this to happen. It’s dangerous to pull over on the side of a busy highway. Additionally, from the video, it appeared he did not place warning cones behind his vehicle.

The cones may not have helped if the dump truck driver was texting, but the ODOT driver certainly took an unnecessary risk by pulling over in rush hour traffic.

Could This Happen to You?

Without a doubt - yes. And it would cost you tremendously.

For the company of the dump truck driver, they clearly put someone on the road who is not a safe driver. The problem is that many companies fail to educate, train, and vet their drivers to make sure everyone is prepared to prevent accidents.

An unsafe driver can go years and years without an accident. Then, one day, their luck runs out when they’re on the clock for you. That could land you a multi-million dollar lawsuit, not to mention the cost of loss from the accident. Many companies wouldn’t be able to recover.

For the ODOT driver, if that happened to you, it would still cost you tons of money. You wouldn’t be fined, but the cost of loss also comes in the form of lost time, damage to the vehicle, rising insurance premiums, and workers’ compensation.

Even a small accident is going to cost you thousands of dollars.

What Can You Do to Protect Your Company?

Accidents are caused by people and their unsafe behaviors. You can’t drive the vehicle for your employees, but you can set them up for success with these two strategies:

  • Implement Proper Selection & Hiring Procedures

Some people are not fit to be professional drivers. They take too much risk or don’t have the physical or mental capacity. This doesn’t make them bad people, but it makes them a bad fit to work for you.

Through selection and hiring procedures such as structured interviews, MVR checks, and personality assessments, you can weed out people who you don’t want behind the wheel.

  • Education on Safety & Risk

In this scenario, both drivers took an unnecessary risk. Yes, the dump truck driver’s risk was much more egregious, but the ODOT driver probably shouldn’t have been there.

The fact is, driving is dangerous. Your people face the biggest risk of accidents and injuries when they’re behind the wheel. You need to educate them on safety, risk, and defensive driving.

A great way to achieve this is to invest in an online program like The Fleet Safety Course.

A program like The Fleet Safety Course guarantees a reduction in accidents by at least 20%. This saves you time and money while protecting your people.

At the risk of sounding dramatic, your next accident could happen tomorrow. You need to be proactive. Put the work in today to save yourself headaches, heartburn, and tons of cash.

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