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Truck Accidents and Traffic Jams

March 03, 1985

There were four--count 'em, four --"unscheduled" traffic jams of major proportions on Orange County freeways two weeks ago. I was victimized by one (delayed over one hour), saw a second and mercifully only read about the other two.

The Times' reports of the causes of all four were virtually identical: "The tractor-trailer rig jackknifed and overturned/spilled its load when the driver (allegedly) swerved to avoid a car which had cut in front of him."

The true causes of these and similar Sigalerts (is it my imagination, or have these incidents been multiplying in recent months?!) have become variations on a common theme. The likely explanation for the great majority of these accidents is that the moronic, lead-footed, overgrown juvenile delinquents who high-ball those rigs like a souped-up Porsche were simply driving them too fast for existing conditions.

For one jerk to inconvenience hundreds (and sometimes thousands) of others because he thinks he can bully his way along at unsafe speeds is inexcusable. For him and/or his employer to go unpunished is unjust.

Maybe it's time the Legislature stepped in: Citing the driver guilty of causing a major freeway tie-up with a violation, sending the spill-cleanup tab to his employer and suspending the driver's license of a two-time offender would give justice where justice is due. It could also serve as a deterrent to those drivers whose compulsion for maximum speed is the cause of many (if not most) of these accidents.

Who knows, it may even save a life or two.


Costa Mesa

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