Semi with raised bed tears down Texas highway sign, brings up questions on dump body safety

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They tried to warn him, but he didn’t stop.

Dramatic video shows a tractor-trailer in Houston with a raised dump bed tearing down a large sign trestle Thursday on the East Loop of Interstate 610.

The driver’s condition remains unknown. Video below posted by abc13.com shows that an attempt was made to warn the driver about the elevated dump as he traveled in a northbound lane. Traffic was shut down in the northbound lanes until late Thursday night.

The Texas Highway Patrol told HWT that neither the Lone Star State nor the federal government requires dump body safety switches on commercial vehicles. Such switches alert the driver when the bed is in a raised position. A PTO alarm can also warn drivers.

While dump body alarms are not required by federal agencies that typically deal with vehicle safety issues, such as the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, they are required by the Occupational and Safety Health Administration (OSHA), according to the National Truck Equipment Association (NTEA).

“We are not aware of any specific federal requirements,” Summer Marrs, director of communications and public relations at NTEA, said. “The following is as close as it gets for a federal requirement, which comes from OSHA’s construction regulations: ‘Operating levers controlling hoisting or dumping devices on haulage bodies shall be equipped with a latch or other device which will prevent accidental starting or tripping of the mechanism.’ CFR 29 Part 1926.601 (b)(11)

“Some states may have more specific requirements for a ‘body up’ indicator, and those would normally be prescribed in the respective motor carrier safety requirements for commercial vehicles operating in a given state,” Marrs continued. 

Dump body safety switches are relatively inexpensive and can prevent needless accidents that have proven deadly and costly. A quick search on Google revealed four suppliers: Best Truck Equipment, Buyers ProductsControl Products, and DiCAN in Ontario, Canada.

Neither the Houston police nor the FMCSA were able to respond to HWT’s media requests by deadline. NHTSA said that it does not handle commercial vehicle issues, such as the one involved in Thursday’s accident.

Thursday’s accident follows a similar collision that took place in Florida earlier this month where a dump truck traveling with a raised bed crashed into an overpass on I-10 near Niceville. No injuries were reported. The accident caused structural damage to the overpass and delayed traffic on east bound I-10 for hours.

Bucket trucks and other equipment with lift features have also been involved in collisions where the PTO was left engaged.

Special thanks to DiCAN for posting the Raised Box Accident Compilation video on their website. You can watch it below.