What Are the Risks of a “Can Opener” Crash?

If you are a seasoned or experienced driver, there is a good chance that you have noticed the signs near bridges, tunnels, and overpasses alerting large trucks that are over a certain height to not proceed. Of course, when you are in a passenger vehicle, you may not think too much about it; passenger vehicles aren’t nearly tall enough to hit those structures.

Truckers that ignore these signs and continue to drive under the bridge, tunnel, or overpass may quickly learn that it was a bad idea and experience a “can opener” truck crash.

A can opener crash occurs when a large truck strikes a bridge, tunnel, or overpass strike resulting in the entire top of the vehicle peeling off just like when you use a can opener. Can opener crashes typically only happen to large semi-trucks that are too large to fit under a bridge, tunnel, or overpass.

While these accidents can injure bystanders or other motorists below, they can also damage the top of the structure, causing it to eventually collapse or fall apart. In addition, due to the impact and damage to the truck, it may begin to spill out the contents of the truck that could harm other drivers, bystanders, pedestrians, or even the entire nearby community.

The main cause of can opener crashes in Tulsa, OK

These types of collisions are typically the result of negligence. Most truck drivers’ routes are planned by the company’s dispatcher, but independent drivers are in charge of planning their driving routes. Therefore, they should be aware of low bridges, tunnels, or overpasses as well as any road construction which may force them into a different route or even a different lane. (Right lanes may be a tighter squeeze than left lanes, depending on the design of the bridge or overpass.)  If the dispatcher or GPS does not mention or show these low structures, drivers are still responsible for paying attention and looking out for posted signs that might alert them of various height restrictions. When they do not pay attention or fail to follow the traffic signs, they are likely to experience a can opener crash, which may harm them as well as other motorists and pedestrians.

Are can opener crashes preventable?

Can opener crashes are almost always preventable. In fact, The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) stated that they believe bridge strikes and can opener accidents “are avoidable through better awareness of route restrictions along travel paths gained by paying closer attention to road signs and by the use of only those electronic navigation systems intended for trucks and buses.” Truck drivers can map out their route beforehand and pay attention to any traffic signs that let them know they cannot fit under an upcoming structure. Truckers also have the option to use GPS systems, which typically alert them of any hazards ahead on their route.

Can opener truck crashes can lead to serious injuries

Can opener accidents can lead to a disastrous situation very quickly. For example, when the truck driver slams into the structure, other vehicles behind them may swerve or crash into their truck, leading to a large pile-up on a road or highway. The damage to the overpass, tunnel, or bridge may also cause debris to fall, which may injure vehicle drivers, pedestrians, or bystanders below. In addition, if the structure begins to fall apart or collapse, those above or below may also become seriously injured. Here are some of the most serious injuries that the truck driver, cyclists, pedestrians, and other motorists may suffer in a can opener accident:

  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Head and skull injuries
  • Back and spinal cord injuries
  • Broken and fractured bones
  • Crushing injuries
  • Cuts, lacerations, and punctures
  • Amputations or loss of limbs
  • Facial, dental, and eye injuries
  • Bruising, scarring, and disfigurement
  • Paralysis
  • Coma
  • Chest, shoulder, and abdominal injuries
  • Death

As you can see, most of these injuries are life-threatening and can lead to severe complications that can affect the victims for many years to come. They may experience ongoing medical expenses, loss of income, emotional and mental trauma, pain and suffering, diminished quality of life, and more.

Tips for truckers to avoid a can opener accident

As a transportation hub, Oklahoma has hundreds of trucks traveling through it every day. It also has about 12,000 miles of highways and at least 28 different roadways with listed height restrictions. In order to avoid a can opener accident, truckers should follow these four tips:

  1. Be aware of the height of your truck: Before you leave to take a load to its destination, make sure that you are aware of the exact height of your truck including its load.
  2. Make sure your load is properly secured: Sometimes, if your load is not properly secure, this can cause you to become stuck or crash into a low structure. Even if your truck makes it through, the debris that scatters can harm someone else.
  3. Stay in touch and communicate with your company and dispatchers: If you start to see signs that alert you of low structures and cannot find an alternative route, you should reach out to your company and dispatchers to help you. They may be able to recommend a different option quickly.
  4. Do some research: Other than planning your route and using your navigation system, you should also do some research. Some websites will tell you about low bridges or tunnels that you should avoid in certain states or cities. This information may be very beneficial to you if you are a truck driver and need to know if there are low bridges, tunnels, or overpasses on your route.

If you have been seriously injured in a can opener accident, you need a Tulsa truck accident attorney on whom you can depend throughout the entire legal process. No matter how tough or complicated your case may become, we will remain by your side, ensuring that you are up to date and aware of everything going on. At Biby Law Firm, our team reviews these types of cases, gathers evidence to support your claim, and stands up and fights for the compensation you deserve. Call our office or complete our contact form to schedule your free case review at one of our Tulsa offices today.