Blum, TX

Deadly Crash Near Blum Sets Off Facebook Thread on the Dangers Posed by Gravel Hauling Trucks

Melinda Crow accident happened on State Highway 174 near Chisholm Trail Park west of Blum.(Courtesy photo)

HILL COUNTY, TEXAS--According to The Lakelander, a crash involving a semi-truck and a pickup truck on Hwy 174, resulted in one fatality-- the driver of the pickup, Bruce Jernigan Jr., 38, of Kopperl, who was pronounced dead at the scene on Monday, March 14. While the newspaper reports that an investigation is still active and ongoing, witnesses shared that the semi-truck involved was a gravel hauler.

A 2012 nationwide study of fatalities in such crashes resulted in the following conclusions:

Some factors associated with lack of driver awareness, geometric improvements to roads or intersections, and the desire to achieve higher salaries by making more runs in a day were found to have a significant effect on causing severe injuries in gravel truck accidents.
Some policy recommendations to prevent gravel truck-involved crashes that resulted in serious injuries include mandating gravel truck operators and companies to strictly enforce the maximum legal driving hours and improve the wage system of a low pay base and high-bonus by runs, in addition to a required driver training program, mandating gravel truck drivers to attend a traffic safety program for the education and awareness of risky driving behaviors--for example, overloading, speeding, and prolonged driving--before obtaining a professional driver's license.

Friends and acquaintances of Jernigan shared their grief and addressed the issue of dangerous gravel hauling on the area's roadways in a Facebook thread earlier today.

I am so very sorry for your loss and all his friends and family. I witnessed the aftermath when they opened the highway and am still haunted by what I saw. There have been so many tragedies on 174 and I agree something needs to be done about the careless semis.

Along with the condolences, were concerns about reducing speed limits specific to these types of loads and suggestions that roads they travel frequently should have turn lanes to avoid the kind of situation that caused Monday's deadly crash, where the gravel truck swerved to avoid a vehicle in front of it making a turn, striking the pickup truck head-on. One commenter on the thread had this to say:

They’re always rushing and stuff flying everywhere. It’s sad because they’re just trying to make a living but I personally think they should be e logged like every other big truck. This will help keep their speed in check and cause them to do better since everything bad goes on their driving record.

Another commenter noted roads in neighboring Bosque County were also known danger zones with gravel trucks.

Issues with big trucks on 2114 too. Unfortunately, when you complain and patrol comes to monitor, the first guy who gets stopped simply warns the rest by radio. It's so dangerous. I've called the companies too. It's just a matter of time before they kill someone over here. I hate it.

One former driver of a gravel truck had this to add to the conversation:

I used to be a rock hauler and I got paid by the load but I wasn't a speed demon and drove the speed limit. I never had or caused a wreck in all my years of driving over the road local. So please don't stereotype all of us. I did care. I didn't want to hurt or kill anyone. I have saved lots of 4 wheelers out there that turned in front of me or pulled out in front of me and many more instances. I took my CDL seriously. I was expected to drive professionally.

The thread remained civil as posters shared their stories about the dangers of our rural roads. Even the original poster seemed surprised, remarking that she was thankful that nobody had "scolded" her for her post.

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