Portland 18-Wheeler Wreck: Tractor-Trailer Overturns Onto Vehicle

Interstate 5 northbound was closed through the morning commute Wednesday near Terwilliger Boulevard after a semi-tractor trailer crashed onto its side and landed on top of another vehicle. The crash happened at around 4:30 a.m., police said. The people inside the car were taken to the hospital. This accident, in the earlier morning hours, was apparently the result of an inattentive tractor-trailer driver speeding through an area of I-5 known to be dangerous. There are signs up and down Interstate 5 warning big rig drivers about the danger of the Terwilliger Curves; they may have been ignored.

Speeding on Unfamiliar Roads is a Leading Cause of Tractor-Trailer Wrecks

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association (FMCSA) is the division of the Department of Transportation which regulates “commercial motor vehicles in interstate commerce” which means the FMCSA regulates tractor-trailer owners, lessors, and operators. The FMCSA has studied the causes of tractor-trailer wrecks; the leading causes are typically driver related, including the driver falling asleep, driver drug use,  driver distraction, and driver inattentiveness, poor decision making, or driving too fast for conditions. Other causes include brake failure and road conditions. The findings from one FMSCA study are published below.

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Factors assigned to the causes of Truck Accidents and their “Relative Risk” factors:

Factors Number of Trucks Percent of Total Relative Risk
Vehicle: Brake problems 41,000 29% 2.7
Driver: Traveling too fast for conditions 32,000 23% 7.7
Driver: Unfamiliar with roadway 31,000 22% 2.0
Environment: Roadway problems 29,000 20% 1.5
Driver: Over-the-counter drug use 25,000 17% 1.3
Driver: Inadequate surveillance 20,000 14% 9.3
Driver: Fatigue 18,000 13% 8.0
Driver: Felt under work pressure from carrier 16,000 10% 4.7
Driver: Made illegal maneuver 13,000 9% 26.4
Driver: Inattention 12,000 9% 17.1
Driver: External distraction 11,000 8% 5.1
Vehicle: Tire problems 8,000 6% 2.5
Driver: Following too close 7,000 5% 22.6
Driver: Jackknife 7,000 5% 4.7
Vehicle: Cargo shift 6,000 4% 56.3
Driver: Illness 4,000 3% 34.0
Driver: Internal distraction 3,000 2% 5.8
Driver: Illegal drugs 3,000 2% 1.8
Driver: Alcohol 1,000 1% 5.3


Tractor Trailers on the Highway Shoulder are an Unsafe Hazard
Trucking “Hours of Service” Regulations: Driver Fatigue causes Hundreds of Truck Crashes Every Year

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