• August 29, 2022

Alan Peck Killed, One Injured in 18-Wheeler Crash on I-81 in Roanoke County, VA

Roanoke County, VA — August 28, 2022, 52-year-old Alan Peck died and another person was injured in an 18-wheeler overturn crash in Roanoke County.

Reports say the incident happened around 10:40 a.m. along southbound Interstate 81 at mile marker 135.5. Preliminary investigation suggests only that Peck was driving a tractor-trailer south on the highway when he lost control for unknown reasons. The big rig ran onto the median and overturned.

Peck, reportedly not wearing a seat belt at the time, was fatally injured in the crash. A passenger from the truck was airlifted to an area hospital for treatment of unspecified injuries.

The crash remains under investigation. No further information is currently available.

Commentary on Alan Peck Accident on I-81 in Roanoke County

It's not clear how this unfortunate accident happened, and as authorities try to put more of the puzzle together I certainly don't want to speculate. However, even in the few sentences of preliminary reports I see some specific details I fear will get set aside during the police investigation.

For one thing, reports say the truck driver didn't have a seat belt on when the big rig crashed. Over the years I've seen many instances where that claim, made by police when they got to the scene and found the driver somewhere besides his seat, was actually incorrect. The assumption is that the driver wasn't buckled up, but time and again closer inspection shows the belt actually broke or failed, rendering it useless to the person whose only mistake was trusting a vehicle component to work right.

That actually segues into the second point of concern: Truck rollover crashes like this, while plenty serious, likely don't have to be fatal nearly as often as they are. There's an unfortunate problem in the trucking industry when manufacturers cut corners and refuse to make even simple improvements to protect both the truck drivers and other motorists around them. In many cases trucks that should be able to withstand a rollover crumple under their own weight due to shoddy manufacturing, resulting in people losing their lives when the right changes would drastically have improved their chances of survival.

I want to be very clear that I'm not making accusations about the condition or quality of the truck that rolled over in Virginia. I only know from long experience that those details generally aren't even considered when police, whose chief concern is just whether someone broke the law, are the only ones to investigate a crash. Clearly that's a big problem when trying to help the people affected.

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