Law enforcement, instructors caution safety after several semi crashes

Law enforcement, area emergency management, and the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet were out in force Monday after three separate crashes on local highways.

First, three semis crashed in Lyon County after one driver made an illegal u-turn on Interstate 24. One person died. Then, a semi in Marshall County caught fire. Then another semi crashed in Graves County, blocking the Purchase Parkway between Wingo and Mayfield.

As to why there were so many crashes, there are some explanations but no answer —although it may be a coincidence. A transportation cabinet spokesperson says the number of crashes have held steady over the past couple years, and Monday’s collisions do not put that steady number at risk.

But law enforcement and driving trainers say yesterday should serve as a warning.

Next to safety on the road, Paducah Area Transit Driving Instructor Terry Kearns says education is arguably more important. He says crashes, particularly semi crashes, always have a trickle down effect, always affecting more than one person. He says what concerns him is insufficient training, because truck drivers on the road without enough training could get hurt or kill someone.

Kearns said regarding Monday’s crashes that "When you see that many happening in one day, that’s uncalled for. There’s no reason for that to happen."

The driving instructor believes truck drivers and non-commercial drivers need to be proactive and even ask for more training because technology in cars and trucks on the road changes every day.

Kearns says a semi can take twice as long to come to a complete stop as a passenger car or van.

Marshall County Sheriff Kevin Byars says the county managed the change in traffic flow yesterday with the help from other agencies.

"It’s pretty much all hands on deck when something like that happens, and yesterday was just an unusual day as far as crashes along limited access highways," Byars said.

Byars says these crashes should serve as a reminder to drivers to keep their eyes up.

Investigators are still trying to determine if distracted driving was the cause of any of the crashes. Although it’s hard to catch, the sheriff says his department is citing more drivers for distracted driving.

For non-commercial drivers passing semi trucks, always make sure you can see a truck’s mirrors. If you plan to pass a semi, make sure you can see the entire truck in your rear-view mirrors.

According to the Federal Highway Administration, for every minute an interstate is slowed, the odds of a crash are increased by 2.8 percent and cost almost $1 million every hour a highway is blocked. Included in that figure are salaries lost when employees are sitting in their cars, and extra man power to clean up and redirect traffic.

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