Police: Trucker speeding in Indiana crash that killed 3, injured 7
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Police say a semitrailer’s computer data indicates it was going above the speed limit when it slammed into a line of vehicles backed up by construction on an Indianapolis highway, killing a woman and her 18-month-old twin daughters.
State police say Interstate 465 traffic was slowed for a construction zone when the crash happened Sunday. A preliminary probable cause affidavit filed in Marion County Court says the semitrailer was going 65 mph in a 45 mph zone.
Police say the semi driver, 57-year-old Bruce Pollard of Sturgeon, Missouri, told investigators at various times that he was going 35 miles mph, was reaching for his iced tea and a car had cut him off.
The first car struck caught fire — it was carrying 29-year-old Alanna Norman Koons and her two daughters, June and Ruby Koons. They died in the vehicle. Seven others were hospitalized in the seven-vehicle crash.
Pollard was jailed on preliminary charges including reckless homicide and is scheduled to appear in court Thursday.
Safety advocates say a bipartisan bill introduced in the U.S. Senate late last month could help to prevent or at least lessen the impact of crashes like this.
The measure sponsored by Sens. Johnny Isakson, a Georgia Republican, and Chris Coons, a Delaware Democrat, would require semis to have electronic devices that limit their speed to 65 mph. The measure would take the place of a proposed Department of Transportation regulation that has “languished in the federal process” for over a decade, the sponsors said.
The majority of trucks on U.S. roads already have the speed-limiting software built in, but it’s not always used. Most other countries already use it to cap truck speeds, Isakson said in a statement.
Trucking industry groups say speed limiters would create dangerous speed differentials between trucks and cars that will cause traffic jams and increase the likelihood of crashes.
The bill also would circumvent Trump’s transportation department, which has delayed any action on the proposed rule indefinitely as part of a retreat from regulations the president says slow the economy.
The proposed rule has been stuck since it moved through the public comment stage in November of 2016 toward the end of the Obama administration. The next action on the rule is listed as “undetermined” on a federal website.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, one of the department’s agencies that proposed the regulation, has said it received many public comments expressing concerns about the analysis supporting the regulation. The agency said it “will work to ensure that any future decision intended to advance public safety will be grounded in sound analysis.”
When the regulation was proposed, the transportation department wrote that limiting truck speeds to 65 mph would save 63 to 214 lives per year. The bill’s sponsors say that there are 1,115 fatal crashes every year involving heavy trucks on roads with speed limits of 55 mph or higher.
The Senate bill also could solve another problem: Most heavy truck tires aren’t designed to travel over 75 mph, but some states have 80 mph speed limits. If the trucks exceed the tire speed rating, it can cause blowouts and crashes.