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California truck accidents victims aren't usually truckers

Truck drivers are often to blame when big rigs crash in Los Angeles. After all, tractor-trailers are the biggest, heaviest and often fastest vehicles on the road. Even when a semi-truck accident isn't a trucker's fault, the damages and injuries can be extensive.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reported over 3,400 fatal truck crashes in 2010. Most people killed in those accidents were not truck drivers. IIHS said 97 percent of the fatalities were victims in passenger vehicles.

A 68-year-old truck driver died in a West Coast crash in late 2012, after his vehicle came across cars on an interstate that had been involved in other accidents. The trucker swerved to miss the disabled vehicles and drove off the road. The tractor trailer - hauling 9,000 gallons of flammable liquid - flipped, struck a wall and caught fire.

The rig driver did not survive.

The Seattle Times reported at the time of the fatal crash that a vehicle driven by a 22-year-old man struck a guardrail. The occupants were not in the car when it was hit by a second vehicle. The truck came along after both accidents.

The driver involved in the initial collision was charged with reckless endangerment and vehicular homicide. It wasn't until recently that the defendant entered a not guilty plea. Prosecutors said the young man had been driving under the influence of marijuana and alcohol.

The Los Angeles Police Department recently began the regular use of oral swabs for drivers suspected of intoxication. The saliva tests detect the presence of marijuana's active ingredient, tetrahydrocannabinol. Authorities said they aren't sure how the tests will hold up during trials, since the drivers who voluntarily submitted to the swab tested already entered pleas.

In the not too distant future, swab tests could show up in civil courts where injured plaintiffs must show a driver was negligent or reckless to collect damages.

Source: KOMO News, "A year after deadly tanker truck crash, suspect pleads not guilty" Kara Kostanich, Dec. 26, 201 

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