• May 10, 2021

Teen Driver Injured in Crash with Reversing 18-Wheeler on FM 508 in Cameron County, TX

Cameron County, TX -- April 1, 2021, a 17-year-old driver was seriously injured in a collision with a tractor-trailer on Farm to Market Road 508 in Cameron County.

Authorities say the incident happened around 10:40 p.m. on FM 508 near Briggs Coleman Road. Preliminary investigation suggests a Kenworth semi-truck driven by 61-year-old Sergio Lozano was towing a trailer eastbound on FM 508 when he pulled to the shoulder and stopped. The truck then began to slowly reverse into a private driveway on the opposite side of the road, pushing its trailer backward through the east- and westbound lanes. Lozano told investigators he saw the victim's Jeep Grand Cherokee approaching at high speeds from the east and honked his truck's horn to alert the incoming driver. The Jeep reportedly continued westward without reducing speed, crashing into the left side of the reversing truck's trailer. The impact caused the Jeep to become wedged underneath the truck.

The Jeep's driver received serious injuries in the wreck and was taken to an area hospital. Lozano was reportedly unhurt.

No further information is currently available.

Commentary on Reversing 18-Wheeler Accident on FM 508 in Cameron County

I do my best not to jump to conclusions about any wreck, regardless of its preliminary details. It's important to make sure experienced investigators consider all contributing factors before anyone could say with any certainty what happened here. With that said, though, I can't see many ways in which this crash would happen unless the truck driver did something quite wrong. It happened on an unlit stretch of road almost 3 hours after sunset on a two-lane highway and involved a full-size big rig taking up every inch of the road as it reversed. The question that comes to mind is simple: Why in the world did the driver think that was okay to do?

As a rule of thumb it's dangerous for an 18-wheeler to block traffic lanes. Period. That's why most commercial drivers will outright avoid the situation if at all possible, going somewhere they can turn around safely instead of U-turning or trying to pull off an awkward maneuver that closes a roadway down. If it's not feasible somehow to safely turn somewhere, then a responsible trucking company will make sure their driver has a co-worker or someone at the delivery destination to place flares or wave big flags and do every possible thing they can to ensure approaching traffic sees the obstruction.

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The situation in Cameron County seems like a perfect example of why such precautions are so important, and yet reports don't mention any effort to do anything but honk the truck's horn. Maybe other precautions were taken, but experience has shown me far more situations where a truck driver was in a hurry, poorly trained, or forced to work with inadequate resources, and that led to a deadly wreck. One thing to consider, then, is whether the driver simply "called an audible" or whether something beyond his personal control drove him to make an unsafe decision.

In a recent case I handled, a truck driver caused an accident through reckless behavior, but our investigations found that his employer had him working under unreasonable conditions. To satisfy the ridiculous deadlines the company imposed, driver had to cut corners or risk docked pay or reduced hours. If they wanted to put food on the table, they had to comply and take unnecessary risks. Bringing the company's unethical policies to light not only made sure the victims got the help they needed, it was also crucial in getting that company to clean up its act before more people got hurt.

Making sure every factor is known after a crash like this is why I tend to say they need deeper investigations than law enforcement generally provides. At the end of the day, victims and their loved ones deserve to know that every effort was made to find all the facts of the crash and the right parties will be held accountable.

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