Deadly Truck Crash on I-83 in Fairview Under Investigation

Deadly Truck Crash on I-83 in Fairview Under InvestigationA collision between a box truck and a work vehicle led to the death of three workers on “Go Orange Day,” a day specifically designed to raise awareness of crews in work zones. The police are investigating what happened, but no matter what they find, the outcome doesn’t change: three people are dead, and that is tragic.

There are some things about this awful story that caught our eyes as car accident lawyers:

  1. The box truck in question appears to be a Ryder truck, based on footage supplied by local news sites. Ryder, like U-Haul, is a rental truck company. We do not know if the 24-year-old truck driver works for Ryder or if he rented the truck.
  2. The deadly collision happened around 3:30 a.m., meaning the work zone was likely well-lit but the rest of the roadway would be dark. This type of driving situation demands extra care, because there are always slow-moving vehicles in the area (as well as workers) that may not be quite as visible.
  3. The road crew was working on sealing cracks in the pavement, a job that can be done by hand for better precision. This means the work required the crews to be out of their vehicles. Similarly, during the recent bridge collapse in Baltimore, the only people to die were workers doing road construction.
  4. This was, according to WGAL, “the third deadly collision in as many days in the Susquehanna Valley.” Two of them occurred in York County.

Our hearts go out to the families of everyone involved. We hope they find some peace soon.

Why the type of box truck matters in this deadly collision on I-83

Ryder rents out trucks of all kinds and sizes for commercial use, but individuals can only rent certain types of trucks: a cargo van, a 16-foot box truck, or a straight truck (22 feet or 26 feet). For comparison, the average length of a full-size SUV is 16.7 feet, and the average full-size pickup truck is 18.4 feet.

But box trucks are much taller than SUVs, pickups, or sedans, and they don’t have rear windows. They also have a larger blind spot area than most personal vehicles. As such, it can be difficult to drive them safely if you’re used to a smaller car – and yet, there is no special certification for doing so, nor any special licensing required. Anyone with insurance and a driver’s license can rent a box truck.

We point this out because we don’t know if the driver was distracted or speeding, or if he simply wasn’t aware how different it was driving a box truck. He may not have known you need more time to stop or slow down; he may not have been aware of how significant the blind spots are. There is also a chance that, given his age, he’s never driven a vehicle that isn’t equipped with top-of-the-line safety tech like crash avoidance.

If this driver was negligent, then he can and should be held to account for his actions. But if this crash was a true accident because we have become overly reliant on safety technology to protect us, then we must all consider this a wake-up call.

How can we create safer work zones in York County?

Earlier this year, a new pilot program went into effect on roadways across Pennsylvania:

Previously referred to as Automated Work Zone Speed Enforcement, the initial five-year pilot program was made permanent by Act 38 of 2023. The program uses vehicle-mounted systems to detect and record motorists exceeding posted work zone speed limits by 11 mph or more using electronic speed timing devices. Cameras are only operational in active work zones where workers are present. Work zones that have speed safety cameras present and active will have unique, high-visibility signs in advance of the enforcement area, alerting drivers to the upcoming enforcement.

The new program is a good one, we think, because it should force drivers to slow down – but there are other things everyone can and should do to ensure a safer trip:

  • Put phones down and keep eyes on the road. Workers – even ones in high-vis clothing under bright lights – may not be immediately visible. Paying attention to the road can give drivers the extra second they need to spot a worker.
  • Move away from the construction whenever possible. If you can get into the farthest lane, do so. It could reduce the risk of you hitting a cone or a worker.
  • Turn the radio down. It really does help you concentrate on the task at hand (driving).
  • Trust your GPS as much as possible. You can turn on the audible directions and never look at the screen at all.

We cannot emphasize enough the importance of slowing down – not just in work zones, but on all roads. Three fatal accidents in three days are three too many. Slowing down gives you a better chance at identifying potential dangers and taking steps to avoid them. It can also reduce the impact of a crash if you do end up in an accident; that reduction in force could be enough to keep you and others alive.

What options will the victims’ families have?

Because the victims were all at work at the time of the fatal crash, their families will likely have two options. They can file for death benefits through the workers’ compensation program. These death benefits include a certain percentage of their loved one’s weekly pay (depending on who files and how many children the deceased had) as well as $3,000 for funeral expenses.

If that option will not work, then they can file a wrongful death lawsuit against the driver. These types of lawsuits allow a family member to seek compensation for full medical expenses, loss of wages, loss of benefits, and their loved one’s pain and suffering.

Technically, the families could choose to do both: accept the benefits and file a lawsuit, though they may be required to reimburse the workers’ compensation insurance if their individual lawsuits are successful.

KBG Injury Law serves clients throughout South Central Pennsylvania. We have offices in York, Lancaster, Harrisburg, Hanover, and Gettysburg, for your convenience. Please call us or fill out our contact form for more information.