Illinois I-55 Semi-Crashes Blamed on “Bad Driving” Rather than Construction

Serious Semi-Truck Crashes Occur on Same Stretch of Interstate 55

Illinois State Police say that bad driving behaviors are responsible for the latest serious crashes on I-55, not road construction.

Twice in the last month, there have been two extremely serious semi-truck crashes on the same stretch of Interstate 55 in Illinois. The first crash on November 21, 2017 near Hamel, resulted in the tragic deaths of four young women.

On Friday December 15, 2017, a second crash occurred approaching the construction zone near exit 23, where Illinois 143 intersects with the highway. It is reported that a driver rear-ended one car tripping a chain reaction multiple vehicle collision involving 10 vehicles including a semi-truck. Ten people were taken to the hospital. Subsequently, a 62 year-old Livingston woman has died from injuries she sustained in the crash. She was driving a Ram pickup and was the fifth vehicle in the chain to be struck. Her passenger, a 62 year-old Collinsville man remains in serious but stable condition.

Friday’s crash was close to the November 21, 2017 fatal crash. According to reports, a semi-driver slammed into seven cars and according to patrol made “no attempt to stop”. In addition to the deaths of the four women, 12 people were injured and the investigation is still ongoing.

Illinois State Patrol–Plenty of Markings

Illinois State Police Trooper Calvin Dye Jr. stated, “I’ve been hearing people blaming that stretch of roadway on I-55 for crashes, saying it’s because of the construction zone. My whole department thinks that’s absurd……These drivers need to be held more responsible or accountable”. Dye said that police say those accident were caused by “sloppy and distracted driving”.

“The construction zone has nothing to do with a driver speed and nothing to do with a driver being distracted, said Dye, and “How does a construction zone cause a driver to take their eyes off the road?” According to reports, the semi-driver in Friday’s crash looked down to pick up his tea as he approached the construction zone. Investigations are still ongoing as to why the truck driver did not make an attempt to stop in the fatal November 21, 2017 crash.

There are signs warning of the construction zone three miles before the lane restriction, and a radar speed sign flashes vehicle speeds as they cross into the construction zone. According to Dye, people ignore those signs and when traffic slows down, they do not have time to stop on time resulting in crashes. “It’s got nothing to do with construction zones,” Dye said. “It has everything to do with bad driving behaviors”.

Road Construction on Interstate 55 in Illinois

According to the Hamel Mayor, crashes started to occur when the construction began in late October 2017. Since construction is not expected to be completed until September 2018, the stretch of highway between Edwardsville and Hamel on Interstate 55 is a safety concern. The Illinois Department of Transportation closed one lane on each side of I-55 along this stretch and construction continues.

Road construction often creates congestion. The Illinois State Police have been very clear that bad driving behaviors are responsible for the two most recent serious crashes and that people must slow down and pay attention to the road. Traffic always increases over the holidays and paying attention to the roadway is critical no matter what interstate or highway you are traveling.

Tragic Death of Four Young Women

Staunton sisters, ages 20 and 17 died at the scene of the semi-tractor crash. Another passenger in that vehicle, a young law student later died. As well, a 19 year old MSSU student and former Joplin High School graduate died on Thanksgiving Day. Wrongful deaths are never easy to accept and even more difficult when it involves the loss of promising, young lives. The driver of the 2016 Freightliner is still being investigated including toxicology, medical records, driving log books and the truck to determine why it appears the driver made “no attempt to stop” and subsequently smashed into seven cars at highway speed.

Needless Deaths and Injuries

When bad driving behavior such as inattentiveness results in serious injury and fatalities, it is very difficult for law enforcement to not be frustrated. According to Dye, it was one of the worst crashes some of the officers had ever seen. When you work at the Illinois State Patrol, that is quite a statement. Troopers work some of the worst crashes on our highways. Increasingly, they become frustrated with driver’s inability to pay attention. As an attorney who represents those seriously injured and families of those killed, we become exceedingly frustrated with distracted driving, inattentive driving and of course, impaired driving.

Human beings are not perfect, but negligent errors such as distracted driving cost lives and is negligent. Semi-truck operators have a responsibility as they are professional drivers and their vehicles can weigh up to 80,000 pounds in stark contrast to passenger vehicles.

Consulting a Truck Crash Lawyer

After a semi-truck crash, victims and families of victims should absolutely contact an expert truck crash attorney. Negotiations with commercial carrier insurance is quite different than negotiating with the insurance company of a passenger vehicle. Fact is, if you have suffered injuries or lost a loved one, consulting an attorney is always the smart move. In the days and weeks following a serious crash, there are too many unknown factors to negotiate on your own. As an injured party, you want an expert to be certain critical aspects occur in the investigations such as securing necessary evidence, collecting medical records and looking out for your future medical expenses. Those are your beginning concerns, but there are many possibilities such as lost wages, future medical and potential permanency issues.

At The Cagle Law Firm, our St Louis personal injury attorneys will provide free, confidential consultations seven days a week.

Call us at (314) 276-1681

Bell, K and Benchaabane, N. Sisters from Staunton killed in I-55 crash when truck plows into traffic. St. Louis Post-Dispatch 11/23/17

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The Cagle Law Firm serves accident and injury clients throughout St. Louis and the greater St. Louis metropolitan area, including the eastern Missouri and southern Illinois communities. If you or a loved one needs legal assistance with your personal injury case, call The Cagle Law Firm at (314) 276-1681 or use our online contact form to schedule a free consultation.

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