While a truck accident on any road can be deadly, a new study suggests Highway 99 in California is the most dangerous in the country. Fatal Highway 99 truck accidents and car accidents occurred at a higher rate than fatal crashes on any other stretch of highway according to the report, which was released by ValuePenguin. Meanwhile, in the past few months, Highway 99 truck accidents have taken the lives of a truck driver and a teacher and injured other motorists.
How Dangerous Is California State Route 99?
California State Route 99 (also known as Highway 99) is a 424-mile road that runs through California’s Central Valley and connects cities such as Sacramento, Modesto, and Fresno. According to ValuePenguin, between 2011 and 2015, Highway 99 was the site of 264 fatal accidents or 62.3 fatal accidents per 100 miles of road. The deadliest city along Highway 99 is Fresno, which had 34 fatal accidents in the same period.
The second most dangerous highway in the US is the I-45 in Texas, which saw 56.5 fatal accidents per 100 miles. The third is the I-95, which runs from Florida to Maine and had 55.1 fatal accidents per 100 miles.
Although the study did not examine whether it was Highway 99 truck accidents or car accidents that caused the most concern, it did examine other factors that resulted in the dangerous designation. Highway 99 was found to have the highest number of accidents in the dark—40 percent of all Highway 99 accidents from 2011 through 2015 happened at night. It was also found to have the second-highest number of accidents blamed on drunk drivers per 100 miles: 16.9 accidents per 100 miles on Highway 99 were linked to driving while intoxicated.
ValuePenguin is a consumer research organization. It based its rankings on information obtained from the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The report has its critics, however. Responding to the report, James C. Walker of the National Motorists Association noted that the length of the highway is meaningless when compared with ridership data.
The Fresno Bee reports that officials have put more than $1 billion of safety and efficiency upgrades to Highway 99 in the last 10 years.
Fatal Highway 99 Truck Accidents
Highway 99 has proven to be fatal to both truck drivers and passenger vehicle occupants in the past few months. In September 2016, a tractor-trailer traveling on Highway 99 in Selma suddenly veered off the highway and fell to the roadway below, where it caught fire. The fire was so severe the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office said it would need DNA tests to positively identify the truck’s driver. Reasons for the accident have not been given.
On May 16, 2016, a woman was killed in an accident on Highway 99 just outside Fowler. Linda Iversen-Gutierrez was driving her Ford Edge at around 5:00 p.m. and had slowed down her vehicle for traffic. The driver of a semi-truck behind her did not notice she had slowed down and failed to brake in time. The truck collided with Gutierrez’s car, pushing it onto the shoulder of the road and ramming it into a cement wall, killing 58-year-old Gutierrez, a teacher with Fowler Unified School District. A 17-year-old passenger in the vehicle suffered non-life-threatening injuries and was treated in hospital. The occupants of the truck were not injured in the truck crash.
Thirty-four-year-old Felipe Vasquez Capote was reportedly the driver of the Freightliner truck that collided with Gutierrez’s car. Officials say drugs and alcohol do not appear to have been a factor in the crash. Students at Gutierrez’s school remembered her as a generous and caring teacher.
FMCSA/NHTSA Find Many Factors Involved in Truck Crashes
In 2007, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released a report, called The Large Truck Crash Causation Study. That study looked at the different causes of serious crashes involving trucks with a gross vehicle weight rating of more than 10,000 pounds.
“Elements that influence the occurrence of a crash may take place hours, days, or months before the crash,” the agencies wrote. “They include driver training and experience, vehicle design and manufacture, highway conditions and traffic signaling, and weather conditions.” Many accidents involve more than one factor or critical event (the action that made the collision unavoidable), especially those that involve two or more vehicles.
According to the study, environmental factors including problems with the roadway were listed as a critical reason (the immediate reason the critical event occurred) in three percent of crashes. Other factors involved in large truck crashes include vehicle issues such as brake problems and shifting cargo, and driver problems including following too close, fatigue and illegally maneuvering the vehicle.
When large trucks collided with passenger vehicles, contributing factors included the interruption of traffic flow, driving too fast for road conditions, inattention, and fatigue.
California Truck Crash Attorney
Truck accidents can have catastrophic consequences for the people involved. If you or someone you love has been injured in a truck crash, contact an experienced truck accident attorney who can review your situation and discuss your legal options.