Citra, Florida – A Florida truck accident turned tragic Tuesday afternoon when a tractor trailer crashed into the rear of a school bus.
The truck driver who caused the Florida truck accident told investigators he was on his cell phone just before the impact with the bus. A 13-year-old student was killed and several other students were injured.
According to a Florida Highway Patrol report, Reinaldo A. Gonzalez, 30, of Orlando, admitted having been on the phone just before his 1991 Freightliner slammed into the stopped bus. The report lists contributing causes as driver distraction, careless driving and possible faulty brakes. The Florida truck accident occurred on U.S. 301 south of Citra.
Investigators plan to review, among other things, Gonzalez’s driving log to learn how long he had been behind the wheel and Department of Transportation records indicating his truck had been placed “out of service” by the DOT just hours before the crash for having faulty brakes.
According to investigators, there was no indication the truck was over loaded which can make stopping difficult.
A preliminary accident report showed that Gonzalez’s truck had been inspected at a weigh station on I-95 at 3:30 a.m. and was taken out of service for brake problems. Florida Department of Transportation rules require that when a truck is taken out of service, the violation must be fixed before the vehicle is allowed to go back on the road. FDOT spokesman Lt. Jeff Frost offered no comment about the truck other than to say that the brake inspection was part of their ongoing investigation.
This is not the first time Gonzalez’s truck was taken off the road due to safety violations.
According to DOT records, Gonzalez’s truck was placed out of service on April 12, 2007, for having a broken head lamp and three bald tires.
Witnesses to the Florida bus accident said it didn’t look like the truck even tried to stop before crashing into the bus.
Gonzalez later told another truck driver that he didn’t see the school bus.
Gonzalez had several other DOT safety violations since 2005 when he obtained his commercial driver’s licence and began driving tractor trailers, none of which resulted in his vehicle being placed out of service.
In the past, the DOT has cited Gonzalez for three counts of failing to display proper truck identification on his vehicle, again cited for failure to properly display vehicle identification tags on his truck, and for not keeping his driving log current. The driving log allows DOT to track whether the driver has had the required amount of rest.
Federal trucking regulations allow truck drivers to drive 11 consecutive hours without a break or 15 nonconsecutive hours before resting at least 10 hours.
Continue reading →