Truck company in Texas bridge crash had prior violations

The trucker who hit this hit bridgeslammed into a Texas bridge over Highway 36 on July 7, 2016 works for a company with a history of violations with the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Texas Disposal Systems owns the truck that crashed into a bridge that day, killing one girl and seriously injuring her mother. Twelve-year-old Brein Bullock was killed, while her mother, Leah Bullock, 35, was badly injured. The TDS truck crashed into an Old Highway 90 bridge extending over Highway 36. Pieces of the bridge then fell on top the car. The TDS truck was being driven by 72-year-old Carl Weige.

Truck company in Texas bridge crash had prior violations

Houston’s Channel 2 reported last week that in past inspections, the Department of Transportation issued citations for TDS drivers not wearing seat belts, speeding, talking on a cell phone (which is illegal for truckers), among violations dating back to 2014.

TDS trucks – based in Buda, Texas – have been involved in 15 accidents since mid-2014. The most recent was in May 2016 in Austin, Texas, which injured three people. Police ticketed that TDS truck driver.

In July 2015, a 39-year-old woman walking on an Austin street was killed by a TDS garbage truck, one of 160 in the TDS fleet. That TDS driver was not charged.

Sealy Police Chief Chris Noble said witnesses told police officers that the truck brushed the warning system meant to alert trucks of the bridge’s height, yet the truck continued.

Truck company in Texas bridge crash had prior violations

The now-damaged bridge passed inspection in April of 2015, according to Channel 2. It has been designated as functionally obsolete, but only for its lane size. “[T]the lanes weren’t wide enough for the traffic,” explained TxDOT Spokeswoman, Veronica Beyer, who also told Channel 2 the bridge “was not deficient.”

Infrastructure Problems

Though the bridge’s width and condition do not appear to be a factor in the crash, Texas Bridges are part of America’s crumbling infrastructure, which receives a  D+ grade from infrastructurereportcard.org.  The volume of traffic on Houston and other Texas highways is likely a contributing factor to this and most other truck accidents. Truckers are often on tight schedules (though who isn’t, these days?), and they often drive with too-little sleep, endangering everyone on the road.

 

Infrastructure Report Card

According to infrastructurereportcard.org, 42% of America’s major urban highways remain congested. That’s more than four million miles of public roadways carrying nearly three trillion vehicle miles in 2011 alone.*  This congestion costs the economy an estimated $101 billion in wasted time and fuel annually. While the conditions have improved in the short run, and Federal, state, and local capital investments increased to $91 billion annually, that investment level is insufficient, and projected to result in conditions and performance decline in the long haul. The Federal Highway Administration (FHA) estimates $170 billion in capital investment is needed yearly to significantly improve conditions and performance.

While two unloved Presidential candidates spar for position in one of the most contentious and hateful elections in decades, one question we should all be asking them is how they intend to address our glaring infrastructure problem. This latest Texas bridge accident may not have occurred due to crumbling infrastructure, but the picture is clear that something needs to be done, and soon, to help keep us all safe on the nation’s roads. Eleven million trucks now travel our roads.  We need to refurbish our infrastructure now to keep those truckers and ourselves safe.

 

American Roads Costly NOT to fix

Today, 32% of America’s major roads are in poor or mediocre condition,* costing U.S. drivers traveling on poor pavement $67 billion a year, or $324 per motorist, in additional repairs and operating costs.

Deficiencies in America’s surface transportation systems in 2010 were estimated to cost households and businesses nearly $130 billion.

 

Bad Roadways linked with Traffic Deaths

Statistics indicate roadway conditions are a significant factor in approximately one-third of all U.S. traffic deaths. Crashes cost the U.S. economy $230 billion each year. Infrastructurerepoortcard.org notes that, “Reducing exposure to obstructions, adding or improving median barrier systems, and widening lanes and shoulders offer opportunities to reduce crashes, injuries, and fatalities.”

Infrastructure is an issue worth raising in this Presidential election of 2016. U.S. citizens can also raise the issue with their representatives. Fixing some infrastructure problems just might save your life, or the life of someone you know and love.

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