It was a dramatic scene on Sunday morning when a fuel tanker carrying over 8,000 gallons of crude oil crashed on an overpass on the 710 Freeway near Los Angeles. The crash ruptured the truck's fuel tank, spilling thousands of gallons of oil onto the roadway. The oil then caught fire, sending plumes of black smoke high into the air.
The driver of the semi was seriously injured in the accident, but he managed to escape the tractor-trailer's burning cab with the assistance of three people. He is currently in critical condition with a number of serious burns. Another person was also hospitalized with serious injuries; his condition is unknown.
The initial accident appears to have involved a second vehicle, though the role this vehicle played in the incident is unknown. The blaze that followed spilled oil across two lanes of traffic, consuming several other vehicles. Fortunately, no homes caught fire.
The freeway was closed for nearly a full day after the accident as highway inspectors arrived to determine whether the overpass was safe for use. Police are currently trying to determine exactly what led the tanker truck to crash into the side of the overpass; so far, few details have been made public.
Often, cases such as this one are caused by one of a few common factors. Sleep deprivation, for example, is a common catalyst for truck accidents. Though drivers are allowed to operate their vehicles for only a set number of hours each day, these restrictions are sometimes ignored in favor of a longer - and more profitable - workday. When these restrictions are ignored, drowsy drivers can present a serious hazard to other drivers on the road.
NBC Southern California, "710 Freeway Reopens After Tanker Crash, Fire" Jonathan Lloyd and Toni Guinyard, Oct. 28, 2013