According to the most recent figures released by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) of the approximately 450,000 police-reported crashes in 2017, 4,657 involved one or more fatalities. Based on size alone, other motorists who are mostly in smaller vehicles, bicyclists, and pedestrians, are at a severe disadvantage when an accident happens. One such accident involving a passenger vehicle and two big rigs that happened near Westley has left one woman dead.
The Modesto Bee reports that the head-on collision happened on the afternoon of Thursday, January 9th, along Highway 33, when a woman in a passenger vehicle was attempting to pass the 18 wheeler.
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According to a statement released by the California Highway Patrol, at approximately 12:10 p.m.a 20-year-old woman driving northbound in a Hyundai crossed the broken yellow center line of the undivided highway in an attempt to pass one of the big rigs. As she did, her vehicle was struck head-on by a second 18-wheeler. The young woman died at the scene of the accident. Neither driver in the commercial trucks was injured but both big rigs were damaged in the crash.
Authorities have not released the identity of the Moreno Valley woman pending notification of her family.
CHP Officer Tom Olsen told Modesto Bee reporter, Erin Tracey, that passing a big rig is dangerous because the size obscures the line of sight for drivers attempting to pass. In most cases, the trailers of the rigs are 53 feet long so they take more time to pass them.
“If you are going to pass someone on a two-lane undivided highway, you, first, cannot exceed the speed limit, “Olsen said, “which there is 55, and you have to leave enough room to safely pass and re-enter the highway.”