Deadly I-75 crash shines spotlight on Florida’s big semi-truck problem

Hillsborough County

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – A fatal crash involving a dump truck shut down all southbound lanes of traffic on I-75 in Hillsborough County for more than four hours on Monday.

The crash – which happened between Fowler and Fletcher Avenue – is just the latest in fatal crashes on I-75 over the last few years and 8 On Your Side is shining a light on just how dangerous large trucks can be along Florida’s most popular roads.

Seven people, including five children, died in a fiery crash on I-75 in Alachua County earlier this year after a semi-truck was hit a vehicle going north.

State and federal data says heavy trucks, such as semi-trailer trucks and dump trucks like the one involved in Monday’s crash, are largely to blame for dangerous conditions along I-75.

An I-75 Relief Task Force spent nearly a year studying the issues and recommended improvements to the highway instead of the costly option of building a new road.

In 2016, more than 4,300 people were killed in collisions with semis and other large trucks across Florida, according to the federal government. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says 72 percent of the people killed were not the ones in the large trucks.

Crashes involving heavy trucks in Florida

Take a look at the number of crashes since 2014, involving trucks weighing 10,000 lbs or more. Hover over the bars to see the numbers.

Source: FDOT

According to a May 2018 report by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, those large trucks were more likely to be involved in fatal multiple-vehicle crashes than were passenger vehicles in 2016.

Another study by the FDOT, which focused on the northern portion of I-75, suggested that an alternative option of building exclusive vehicle lanes wasn’t a viable option to improve safety along the interstate.

Trucking companies are now exploring options to make roads safer for trucks and other drivers alike.

In May, the owners of Starsky Robotics began testing self-driving trucks. The company says the driverless technology will make roads safer, telling 8 On Your Side that their goal is to have driverless trucks on highways, along with remote-controlled options for the first and last mile of trips. 

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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