Michael A. Kennedy, longtime drummer for country music star George Strait, was killed August 31, 2018 when his GMC collided with a tractor-trailer truck on I-40 in Lebanon, Tennessee. The accident occurred near exit 238, approximately 30 miles east of Nashville.
Kennedy, 59, was driving westbound on I-40 in a 1999 GMC when the accident occurred. The Baxter, Tennessee resident had served as drummer for Strait’s Ace in the Hole band for nearly three decades.
“Our hearts are broken,” wrote Strait in a message posted on social media. “It’s going to be very strange not being able to look over and see him there in his spot on stage. [It’s] very emotional … for all of us and also his fans. The band will never be the same. A part of us is gone forever. We all loved Mike and will miss him terribly. He was just as solid a friend to us all as he was a drummer—and that was damn solid. Our hearts and prayers are with his family….”
Fatal Tractor-Trailer Truck Accidents Continue to Plague Nashville
Unfortunately, fatal tractor-trailer truck accidents like the one that took Kennedy’s life are all too common in the Nashville metropolitan area and Tennessee as a whole. As we noted in a recent post on fatal Middle Tennessee truck accidents, we’re seeing all manner of tractor-trailer accidents, including jackknife accidents, lost load accidents, blind-spot crashes, rear end collisions and underride accidents.
And while common causes of tractor-trailer accidents include driver fatigue, distracted driving and speeding, part of the issue is the increasing traffic volume across Middle Tennessee, which is making driving on the Interstate increasingly frustrating and dangerous for truckers and motorists alike.
A new report issued by the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) notes that Tennessee has the second-most truck bottlenecks among the fifty states, including nine of the Top 100 in the nation. Nashville is home to five of those nine bottleneck hot spots:
- I-24 at I-440 (#15 on the list)
- I-65 at I-440 (#32 on the list),
- I-40 at I-65 (#60 on the list)
- I-65 at RT 386 (#68 on the list)
I-65 at I-24 (#77 on the list)
As for the cause of the Kennedy accident in particular, we don’t yet know. According to the Tennessee Highway Patrol’s preliminary report, Kennedy’s GMC struck a tractor-trailer as it merged into another lane. The tractor-trailer then struck a Chevy Silverado, making it a three-vehicle accident. The Tennessee Highway Patrol noted that Kennedy was not wearing a seatbelt but also stated that it wouldn’t have saved him.
That statement suggests that this particular crash might have been an underride accident, not unlike the one that took the life of a woman on I-65 North in Franklin earlier this year. In truck underride accidents—which occur when the body of a truck intrudes into the passenger compartment of a motor vehicle—otherwise invaluable safety features found in cars and SUVs are often rendered ineffective because the truck body invades the “occupant survival space.” So, for example, a car’s airbags may not deploy if the first contact between truck and SUV is with the SUVs windshield, as opposed to the body of the vehicle.
New Technology May Help Prevent Fatalities in Truck Underride Accidents
There is some good news, however. The prevalence of side and rear underride truck accidents has attracted the attention of Congress, which has introduced the bipartisan Stop Underrides Act, which aims to reduce the number of deaths and catastrophic injuries associated with underride crashes.
Meanwhile, truck and trailer manufacturers—not to mention a handful of intrepid entrepreneurs like Perry Ponder, inventor of the AngelWing® side guard—are working to improve existing rear underride guards and urging the addition of side and front underride guards.
In the near term, though, tractor-trailer accidents in general and truck underride accidents in particular seem destined to remain especially dangerous.
Raybin & Weissman Can Help If You Have Been the Victim of a Tractor-Trailer Truck Accident
Of course, if you have any questions or if you or a loved one has been injured in tractor-trailer truck accident or underride crash, give us a call at (615) 256-6666 for a free, no obligation consultation.
We’re Nashville’s truck accident lawyers and over the years we have worked with countless truck accident victims in Middle Tennessee, helping them to obtain compensation and get their lives back on truck. No matter the extent of your injuries, our personal injury lawyers will work diligently to negotiate a favorable settlement or prove your case in court. We will fight to get you justice.