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Truck cargo spill triggers fatal California bus crash

The tremendous size, weight and speed of tractor-trailers often go unnoticed, since commercial trucks are so common in Los Angeles traffic. Truckers are required to be properly licensed and in full control of the massive vehicles. Truck accident victims know it's easy to assume big rig drivers are not fatigued, distracted or intoxicated.

A truck carrying a load of pipes on California's Interstate 10 moved to pass another slower vehicle in the middle of the night. During the maneuver, the truck struck a divider in the center of the road and jackknifed. The cargo spilled the pipes across the traffic lanes triggering a series of accidents.

One vehicle affected was a bus headed toward Los Angeles with 34 passengers. The bus driver swerved to miss the spilled pipes, causing the vehicle to flip and roll off the freeway. Four passengers were killed and 20 others were hospitalized with injuries.

The semi-truck accident a mile from the state border occurred around 2:15 a.m. Troopers from the California Highway Patrol said at least three bus passengers suffered critical injuries, while others escaped relatively unharmed. The tractor-trailer driver and the bus driver were among those who survived.

Records kept by the California Department of Transportation showed the company that owned the bus had been in operation since the 1960s. There were no significant safety violations on record for El Paso-Los Angeles Limousine Express Inc. Reports included no similar information about the tractor-trailer operator or owner.

A poorly loaded commercial truck can cause serious problems. An unstable load, weighing thousands of pounds, may shift while the truck is in motion and cause the driver to lose control. Truck drivers and carriers are responsible for securing cargo so accidents like the one on Interstate 10 are less likely to happen.

Accident victims are entitled to file claims for compensation when truck drivers and truck companies are negligent.

Source: Los Angeles Times, "4 killed, 20 injured in California bus crash on 1-10 near Arizona" Joseph Serna and Veronica Rocha, May. 21, 201 

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