Veteran truck-driver weighs in on rash of I-81 crashes


UNION TOWNSHIP, Pa. (WHTM) — Pennsylvania State Police continue to investigate Wednesday night’s crash on I-81 in Lebanon County that left at least three people dead.

It’s the third major crash in that same areas in the last six months and the second fatal one.

The three crashes had three common threads: they happened around the I-78 split, it had been raining and tractor-trailers were involved.

That’s not to say tractor-trailers are to blame. In fact, there’s really only so much they can do based on the behavior of everyone else.

After 41 years on the road, Bob Dolan still gets that gut-punch feeling when driving past a crash.

“It’s hard to say what happened and stuff like that a lot of times when you’re passing them, and you feel so bad because sometimes you wonder, ‘was this avoidable,'” said Dolan of XPO Logistsics, the Pennsylvania Motor Truck Association.

A lot of times, it is avoidable, and the method is simple — space out and slow down.

“Whether a piece of material falls off a pickup truck or there’s a piece of debris in the highway, we have to make moves one way or another, and a lot of times we don’t see a vehicle in that blindspot,” Dolan said.

The bigger the vehicle, the bigger the blind spot, and with tractor-trailers weighing up to 80,000 pounds, even the driest days can be dangerous.

“Fity-five on a nice sunny day, smooth concrete — we’re looking at probably more than a length of a football field on braking distance, alone,” Dolan said.

Dolan said the problem corridor on I-81 is so heavily traveled because it leads to New England. When you add rain and distracted driving in the mix, it’s downright dangerous.

Dolan saw a distracted driver hours before our interview.

“I’m driving a tractor-trailer with a 53-foot trailer behind me. He never saw me. He never once saw me because he was looking straight ahead, out the windshield, talking away, having a good time,” Dolan said.

That good time is mere seconds away from being the worst moment of someone’s life.
So, if you remember anything, Dolan said it should be this.

“Driving the vehicle should be the number one process that you’re doing when you’re behind the wheel. So, anything else after that becomes a distraction,” Dolan said.

State Police said Wednesday night’s crash happened after a Chevy Silverado rear-ended a tractor-trailer that was slowing down for conditions.

This caused a second tractor-trailer to rear-end the truck, which caused the gas tank to explode.
They still haven’t released the identity of the victims.


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