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The duty while driving to maintain a proper look out is an important safety requirement for all drivers, but is even more important for tractor trailer truck drivers. Tractor trailer truck crashes are too often caused by inattentive truck drivers whose employer has forced them to drive long hours just to earn a decent living. This past weekend, a Massachusetts woman who got out of her car after pulling over to the right shoulder at the Springfield, Virginia I-495/ I-95 interchange was killed Sunday afternoon when a tractor-trailer hit her.

Virginia State Police said traffic had backed up on the exit ramp from Interstate 495 west to Interstate 95 south just before 2 p.m. when the tractor-trailer, a fully loaded car carrier, swerved to the right shoulder to avoid hitting a car that was slowing to stop. This should not have happended if the truck driver had been paying proper attention and keeping a proper lookout for the traffic ahead of him. The law requires drivers to maintain a safe distance for the conditions.

The tractor-trailer sideswiped the woman’s 1998 Plymouth Voyager on the right shoulder, struck the woman, went back into traffic and hit a sport-utility vehicle. The woman was pronounced dead at the scene, police said. The exit ramp was closed for about an hour before one of the lanes was reopened about 3:15 p.m.

This is the type of tractor trailer truck accident in which it is crucial to secure certain evidence before it disappears. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations require truck companies to maintain certain evidence, such as drivers logs, for only six months. Drivers logs (both the real set and the dummy set kept to show compliance with the regulations) may show that the driver exceeded maximum continuous driving hours etc., which, in turn, may help establish driver fatigue as the cause of an accident. Many victims do not hire a lawyer until after the six month time period for maintaining these records, and the evidence disappears.

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