Truck Wheel detaches on Highway 400 and fatally injures SUV driver

Posted by Injury Lawyers of Ontario on February 13, 2017

On January 27th, a pair of wheels detached from a transport truck travelling southbound on Highway 400 north of the City of Vaughan during the morning commute.  One of the wheels rolled into the opposite lanes and collided with an SUV, causing the vehicle to lose control and land in the ditch.  Tragically, the 69-year-old driver of the SUV sustained fatal injuries as a result of the crash.  The tire significantly damaged the hood, roof and windshield of the SUV.  OPP estimated that the tire may have weighed approximately 100 pounds.

In an accident of this nature, there is almost no time for a driver to react as the detached truck wheels can move even faster than a vehicle.  The ‘at fault’ truck in the Vaughan accident was operated out of Quebec and was carrying lumber. Investigators were tasked with determining possible reason why the wheels would have loosened and detached, and the truck owner and driver may be charged with a detached wheel offence under Ontario’s Highway Traffic Act.

This is by no means the first time that someone was killed in Ontario when a truck wheel came lose and struck their vehicle.  In December 2011, another man was killed in identical circumstances, when a wheel detached from a truck travelling in the opposite direction on Highway 401 near Brookville, flew over into the opposite lane and struck the man’s vehicle.

Should we be concerned about truck safety?  Many critics say ‘yes’.  In June 2013, for example, a number of Ontario police forces carried out a two-day traffic blitz in a Mississauga parking lot, in which they pulled over 190 commercial vehicles that police identified as potentially in need of a safety inspection. Out of the 190 vehicles, 40 per cent failed their inspections and 36 trucks were in such poor condition that officers removed their licence plates at the scene of the inspection.

Problems with the trucks included brake problems; issues with lighting, signals and windshield wipers; tire wear; wheel-attachment problems; and suspension issues.  The blitz drew attention to an ongoing concern that commercial vehicles are not undergoing daily and annual inspections as required.  In many cases, drivers aren't checking their vehicles as often as they should, but another reason why many vehicles aren't maintained in safe condition is that some companies and independent drivers don’t want to pay for needed upkeep or take their vehicle off the road for repairs or for proper inspection.

If you or a loved one were injured when a vehicle part or debris fell off a truck or another vehicle, you may be entitled to make a claim for damages against the negligent driver/owner, and may also claim statutory accident benefits from your vehicle insurer.  Call a knowledgeable Vaughan car accident lawyer to learn about your legal options for obtaining compensation.   An initial consultation is generally free and provides you with a great opportunity to ask questions and get to know our experienced legal team.

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