A crash involving two tractor trailers left wreckage and debris strewn across I-85 near Opelika, Alabama, Wednesday morning, creating a traffic nightmare for travelers and residents in the Auburn/Opelika area. According to WSFA in Montgomery, Ala., the crash occurred just before 8 a.m. and still had traffic heavily backed up at evening rush hour.
The Opelika-Auburn news reported that one of the truck drivers was taken to a nearby hospital, where he was treated for minor injuries and later released. No other motorists in the vicinity of the crash were harmed.
Authorities investigating the accident say that one of the commercial trucks was hauling a load of scrap aluminum. The driver of that truck was about to merge on Interstate 85 from the entrance ramp when the load of metal shifted, causing the truck to topple over and its cargo spill across the highway.
Another 18-wheeler hauling a load of paper products collided with the debris. The driver of that truck lost control of the vehicle. According to police responding to the accident, the truck crossed the median, smashed into a guardrail, and clipped an overpass before veering off into the oncoming northbound traffic lanes and landing in a ditch on the side of the highway. Drivers in the northbound and southbound lanes were able to avoid colliding with the trucks.
On Thursday, Alabama Department of Transportation engineers inspected the bridge column that the second truck struck and deemed it safe.
The U.S. Transportation Department’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration a number of regulations governing the proper loading and securing of cargo. Unbalanced and improperly secured freight can have disastrous consequences for a truck weighing tons, and it’s often the reason why trucks roll over on curves and corners and jackknife on the road.
According to Drivers Alert, sudden cargo shifts were the specific cause on four percent of all crashes involving commercial trucks.