• May 04, 2021

One Injured in Fiery Three-Vehicle Crash at Mason Rd and 14th St in St. Joseph, MO

St. Joseph, MO -- May 3, 2021, a woman was seriously injured in a fiery three-vehicle accident at the intersection of Mason Road and 14th Street in south St. Joseph.

Authorities say the incident happened Monday afternoon at Mason and South 14th. Preliminary investigation suggests the victim was westbound on Mason and stopped at the intersection, waiting to turn onto 14th. As she waited at the intersection her vehicle was hit from behind by a commercial tractor-trailer. The impact pushed her into oncoming traffic where her vehicle was hit almost head-on by an eastbound car. The dual impacts caused the victim's vehicle to catch fire as she was trapped inside.

Emergency personnel were able to extricate the victim and she was transported to an area hospital for treatment of serious burns.

Police currently say the fault lies with the truck driver for inattentive driving.

No further information is currently available.

Commentary on Fiery 18-Wheeler Accident on Mason Rd in St. Joseph

Reports seem pretty clear that a commercial truck driver is responsible for this incident. Investigators typically find these crashes happen because of some kind of operator error like getting distracted or driving while too fatigued to think clearly; indeed, police seem to think driver inattention was a primary factor in St. Joseph.

Having concluded that, police may be tempted to close the investigation. However, experience has taught me to look into other less-common elements as well to be sure all the crash's implications are properly addressed. Setting aside inattention for a moment, could anything else have been involved? Was anything wrong with the truck, like a brake failure or engine trouble? Was the driver somehow incapacitated and unable to stop? Did some medical issue stop him from reacting? If so, is that issue known to his employer? How long was he driving before the crash occurred? When was his last break, and what did he do? Was he adequately trained and experienced? Could he have been distracted by something--his phone, or maybe a dispatcher? How fast was he going as he approached the intersection? Is there anything wrong or dangerous about the design of the road in that area? Is all its signage clearly visible?

victim hurt in vehicle fire after rear-ended by 18-wheeler at mason and 14th in st. joseph, mo

Some may see looking into all that supplemental information as a bit of a waste when one could simply blame the truck driver and be done with it, but it's far more important to be thorough than it may seem at first. For instance, if the driver's attention was distracted because his dispatcher wouldn't leave him alone, or he was sleepy at the wheel because they forced him to cut corners or drive extra-long hours, then that changes the nature of the crash considerably and the company pushing him past his limits should answer for its recklessness. It's one thing for a driver to make a mistake, and consequences should certainly follow regardless, but it's vital to determine whether that error was indicative of a systemic problem that needs correction.

Ultimately this--like most crashes--is a matter of investigating carefully and leaving no stone unturned, and for that I often suggest involving an independent specialist with the time and resources to do the job right. At the very least, the victim deserves to know the whole truth was found and all those responsible for her injuries will be held accountable.

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