Looking at tractor trailer crashes in the valley

Air3 takes a look over I-81 in the Shenandoah Valley. | Credit: WHSV
Air3 takes a look over I-81 in the Shenandoah Valley. | Credit: WHSV(WHSV)
Published: Mar. 9, 2020 at 6:34 PM EDT
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After a tractor trailer crash caused several miles of backups on Monday morning, we took a look at how often crashes involving tractor trailers happen along Interstate 81 in the Shenandoah Valley.

Sgt. CJ Aikens with Virginia State Police said there are going to be more crashes just because of the number of tractor trailers on the road.

"It happens a lot with Interstate 81 and 64, a lot of truck traffic around there," Sgt. Aikens said. "So compared to the rest of the state, we're probably about average, just like everywhere else."

When you take a look at the number of crashes in Rockingham and Augusta County over the last five years, tractor trailer crashes account for less than 20 percent of them. Breaking down the data year by year, most years in Augusta County, tractor trailer crashes account for around 16 percent of all crashes. The number varies more in Rockingham County, but it's anywhere from 9 to 18 percent, depending on the year.

Sgt. Aikens said people may think there are a lot of tractor trailer crashes, but it is all about perception.

"I think that's probably why people think tractor trailers are involved in more wrecks than they actually are," Sgt. Aikens said. "Because we're not hearing, the general public's not seeing those minor wrecks that we can just kind of work and can clear in in 20-30 minutes."

Sgt. Aikens said tractor trailer crashes can have more of an impact on interstate travel because the crashes can be more severe.

"It's an 80,000 pound vehicle colliding with a 4,000 pound vehicle," Sgt. Aikens said. "There's going to be a lot more damage, and a lot more injury."

He adds tractor trailer crashes often require a different response from the tow truck to clean-up.

"Most of the time with just a regular passenger car, the tow truck driver or the trooper can use a broom and clean the road and it's good," Sgt. Aikens said. "If you have a tractor trailer truck involved, depends on the load, what they're carrying, you're looking at extensive clean-up."

We track the latest accidents that happen on I-81 and around the Shenandoah Valley. You can find those here on our website, or get push alerts on your phone with the WHSV News smartphone app.