A series of deadly commercial truck crashes in central Virginia, including one that killed a Hanover, Virginia firefighter, has stoked concerns about federal trucking regulations and public safety.

Two people were killed and several others were injured in three separate tractor-trailer crashes in central Virginia recently, according to Richmond, Virginia’s WTVR Channel 6.

On Thursday, Oct. 11, a tractor-trailer driving on I-295 in Hanover rear-ended a fire truck, killing Lt. Brad Clark and injuring three other firefighters who were responding to Tropical Storm Michael emergencies in the area.

“The fire engine had its emergency lights activated while stopped in the far left lane and shoulder,” Virginia State Police Public Relations Director Corinne Geller said, according to WTVR. “A southbound tractor-trailer rear-ended the fire engine and struck four firefighters who were outside the fire engine.”

Virginia State Police charged the tractor-trailer driver with reckless driving and cited him for defective brakes.

On Oct. 12, tractor-trailer driver 51-year-old Bruce Daymon Worley of Trenton, New Jersey, was killed when he lost control of his vehicle. The tractor-trailer veered off I-64 in Henrico County and collided with a tree.

In yet another October crash, tractor-trailer driver Kenneth Williams, 65, suffered serious injuries when his vehicle flipped onto its side, crashed through a guardrail, and slid into the woods in Chesterfield County.

One local lawyer told WTVR that tractor-trailer accidents have taken up more of his time in the past 15 years, saying distracted driving is causing more and more of the crashes. He also indicated that federal Hours-of-Service (HOS) regulations that restrict how long tractor-trailer drivers can stay on the road are too lax.

“Truck drivers are still allowed up to 11 hours straight during a shift. They’re allowed to drive up to 60 hours in a week. That’s a pretty long schedule for most folks,” the lawyer told TVR.

Mechanical issues are also the culprit in many tractor-trailer crashes, but one policeman who works in the Richmond Area Motor Carrier Safety Unit told WTVR that most crashes he sees are caused by driver error.

“In my experience, it’s been more driver error than equipment issues. Not paying attention, driving too fast for conditions, and not obeying highway signs like they should,” he told WTVR.

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