State of California Passes Bill Prohibiting Big Trucks in Dangerous Runaway Zone

Back in April, the MLN Law blog brought you news of the controversy swirling around a tractor trailer truck crash in the town of La Cañada Flintridge, California. After the driver lost control on a steep incline, the truck ran away, crashing into a shopping center. The accident, described in horrifying detail in the LA Times, killed two, a father and daughter, and injured at least 12 more people.

Part of the controversy over the incident stemmed from the fact that a report revealed that California Transportation (CALTRANS) officials were aware of the runaway truck problem, but asked for “more time” to finish their investigation of the site before implementing a fix.

Months later, the fix has finally been implemented.

California Assembly Bill 1361 will prohibit commercial vehicles with three or more axles or weighing 9,000 pounds or more from driving on the segment of Angeles Crest Highway located between Interstate 210 in La Cañada Flintridge and Big Pines Highway in Los Angeles County. The law will go into effect as soon as Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signs it into law.

The bill was introduced by Assembly member Anthony Portantino (D) of La Canada Flintridge, the area where the crash occurred.

“AB 1361 has been a personal priority for me,” Assembly member Portantino said. “Local residents and commuters must be able to feel safe on our streets. It was inspiring to have so many people pull together and work with the legislature to pass this measure in the wake of the tragic accident last Spring.”

“The horrific scene of the crash where a father and his 12-year old daughter died will forever remain in the memories of those who witnessed it,” said California Senator Carol Liu, the bill’s coauthor. “The goal of AB 1361 is to make sure such a tragic incident never occurs again.”

The site of the accident is located in an area where trucks must travel on roads with grades as steep as 7%. According to a local blog, Pasadena Now, “in recent years, two trucks have lost control near a popular La Cañada Flintridge restaurant at the base of Route 2. In April 2005, a truck careened into a protective retaining wall, just feet from the restaurant, and in September 2008, a truck lost its brakes and smashed into seven cars in the restaurant’s parking lot.”

Unless you live in a hilly area, steep grades are not something you often think about, but for a truck driver, just navigating an 80,000 pound vehicle on a flat road can be a challenge. It’s all too easy for truck drivers to lose control on steep hillsides such as the one located in La Cañada Flintridge. Whether it acted far too late or not, the state of California acted correctly in banning large trucks from that steep hill and preventing who knows how many future accidents.

Have you or someone you know been the victim of an accident due to improper signage or other negligence by state or local government? Call MLN Law at (404) 531-9700 for more information about your options in this serious matter.