• May 26, 2022

One Injured in Crash with 18-Wheeler on US-23 near Smithfield, NE

Smithfield, NE -- May 25, 2022, one person was seriously injured in a collision with a tractor-trailer on U.S. Highway 23 near Smithfield.

Authorities say the incident happened around 8:30 a.m. at or near the intersection of US-23 and Road 434, around a mile east of town. Preliminary investigation suggests a Chevrolet Malibu was northbound on Rd 434 when the driver allegedly disregarded a stop sign at US-23. The car entered the intersection and collided with a tanker semi-truck on the highway. After the impact the car ran off the road into a nearby field the truck overturned on its side in the roadway.

The Malibu driver was airlifted to a Kearney hospital with serious but non-life-threatening injuries. The truck driver also received non-life-threatening injuries and was taken to an area hospital.

No further information is currently available.

Commentary on Truck Accident on US-23 near Smithfield

Images of the intersection show that traffic on Road 434 has a stop sign and is meant to yield to vehicles on Highway 23. It's not clear why the victim might have failed to yield to the oncoming truck in Smithfield, but before anyone says the victim just screwed up it's important to consider other potential explanations.

For example: Could the Chevy have had some kind of mechanical or brake problem? What about any health problems that might have incapacitated the driver? Could something have blocked his view of the big rig? Was signage covered or missing at the intersection? Were there any other vehicles around at the time? Could bad weather or hazardous road conditions have been a factor? Does that area have a history of similar crashes? Is the intersection designed poorly? Ignoring right-of-way for a moment, could the truck driver have done anything differently to avoid the collision or reduce its damage?

One Injured in Crash with 18-Wheeler on US-23 near Smithfield, NE

I'm not trying to overcomplicate this matter or unfairly blame anyone. I just want to make sure all the possibilities are considered as they should be after any accident. Unusual elements contribute to crashes all the time but they often get overlooked during a routine police investigation. We even saw a recent incident in West Texas where a person allegedly ran a stop sign and fatally crashed with an 18-wheeler, only for us to find out later that TxDOT road crews removed the signs during construction and didn't put them back. The victim didn't even know he had to stop there, but until that fact came to light police reports (and public opinion) unfairly blamed him.

It's pretty unlikely the same thing happened near Smithfield as stop signs rarely go missing like that. I'm just saying that many crashes aren't as simple as they might appear and crucial details are often overlooked or misunderstood. The victim deserves the benefit of the doubt while efforts are made to learn the full story. Will police be thorough enough to get it, or would an independent investigation stand a better chance of finding the truth?

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