Fatal truck accident: A 35-year-old truck driver who may have fallen asleep at the wheel was killed Saturday when his gasoline tanker overturned and caught fire on Highway 101 near Buellton.
• Near the end of his shift, a truck driver lost control of a gas tanker.
• The tanker overturned, skidded 100 feet, and caught fire.
• The driver died at the scene.
California Highway Patrol officer Danny Maher said the truck was hauling 8,500 gallons of gasoline for DanDee Transportation. Authorities believe the driver was either drowsy or fell asleep at the wheel, Maher said. He was from Santa Maria, according to the San Luis Obispo Tribune, but his name was withheld pending notification of next of kin.
The truck was traveling northbound on Highway 101 en route to Atascadero, and was scheduled to stop in Santa Maria to change drivers, according to the CHP report. The driver called his relief driver from a cellphone at 3:36 a.m. and said they could meet at about 4:30 a.m. to make the switch.
Less than 10 minutes after that call — and just 30 miles south of Santa Maria — the tired driver somehow lost control of his rig near Jonata Park Road. The gas tanker drifted into the center divider and the driver overcorrected to try to regain control, Maher said.
The big-rig overturned, skidded about 100 feet, and burst into flames. Santa Barbara County fire captain Brad Lane told the Lompoc Record the truck was already fully engulfed when firefighters arrived, so they were not able to get into the cab. The heat and flames essentially liquidated the trailer, Lane said.
The truck driver died inside the rig. No other vehicles were involved and there were no other injuries or fatalities.
Fire crews from Santa Barbara and Vandenberg responded to the scene. One of the Vandernberg trucks brought 800 gallons of foam to fight the blaze.
The fire spread to some nearby brush and started a small fire there, but it was quickly extinguished. The fuel burned up inside the tank and did not spill onto the road, Maher said.
Officials closed the highway in both directions for several hours. Southbound lanes reopened just after 9 a.m. Saturday. Northbound lanes reopened around 2 p.m.
Drowsy Driver Statistics
Every year 37,000 people are injured — and almost 1,000 are killed — in accidents caused by drowsy drivers, according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Admnistration (NHTSA).
Drowsy driving is a major safety hazard, especially because it is so common:
- 62 percent of surveyed American adults (72 percent of men and 54 percent of women) reported driving while feeling drowsy.
- 37 percent of surveyed American adults (49 percent of men and 26 percent of women) said they had dozed off while driving at least once.
- 27 percent of surveyed American adults (36 percent of men and 20 percent of women) said they had dozed off while driving in the past year.
Buellton Truck Accident Lawyers
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