Trucking accidents in Hollywood and other Florida communities are often devastating and will sometimes make the news when the collision is severe enough. When celebrities are involved, however, news agencies become even more involved and this can sometimes mean important safety changes as well as emphasis on safety issues.
For example, in 1967, actress Jayne Mansfield rear-ended a commercial truck. Mansfield and the other adults in the car were killed instantly when the vehicle slid under the truck. The serious accident called attention to the dangers of the underride accidents and in part due to the tragedy underride bars were eventually developed and are now widely used on commercial trucks to prevent similar deaths in rear-end collisions in Hollywood and other communities. The steel bars that are placed across the rear end of commercial trucks are known as underride guards or sometimes as Mansfield bars. At one point, the bars were required on all commercial trucks, although rules have now been changes so that many trucks are exempt from needing the underride bars.
In 2007, Josh Hancock of the St. Louis Cardinals was killed in a collision with a tow truck. The baseball player had earlier in the week been involved in a minor crash with a tractor-trailer. At the time of the crash, police say that Hancock had a blood alcohol level above the legal limit and was speaking on his cell phone. The accident increased awareness of drinking and driving as well as seat belt use (Hancock was not wearing a seat belt at the time of the accident).
Earlier this year, comedian Tracy Morgan was seriously injured in a fatal trucking accident in New Jersey. The accident occurred when a truck driver in a Walmart truck failed to brake correctly. An investigation showed that the truck driver had been awake for 24 hours at the time of the crash, a fact that led many safety experts to seek stricter hours of service regulations in the trucking industry. Tracy Morgan filed a lawsuit against Walmart. That legal claim alleges that the truck’s automatic collision detection technology did not work correctly and that the driver was rushing to make his destination with a 28 minute deadline due to a 14 hour cutoff for truck drivers. The truck driver was not violating any rules by having been awake for 24 hours at the time of the accident, a fact that had many legislators asking for changes to the federal trucking regulations.
Of course, any death should be a tragedy and should prompt reflection and safety changes in the event of a preventable death. For better or worse, though, our interest in celebrity inevitably means that we place more emphasis on the tragedies of those who are in the spotlight. Some celebrities understand the link and use their influence for positive purposes. Many celebrities, for example, have filmed public service announcements to encourage drivers to avoid texting and driving or drinking and driving. Some celebrities also give money to safety advocacy groups.
Even if you are not a celebrity, you can create change if you are in a serious car or truck accident. The legal cases of plaintiffs will sometimes prompt recalls or safety changes, which can help prevent further collisions. If you have been injured and would like to know how you can fight for justice, contact Flaxman Law Group for a free case consultation with our legal team.