Diesel mechanic died in motor vehicle crash caused by distracted driving

Iowa Case Report: 12IA041
Report Date: March 4, 2013

The following report is the product of our Cooperative State partner and is presented here in its original unedited form from the state. The findings and conclusions in this report are those of the individual Cooperative State partner and do not necessarily reflect the views or policy of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.


A 37-year-old diesel mechanic employed by a railroad transportation company died when his loaded utility truck collided with the rear of a semi-trailer on a four-lane interstate highway. The mechanic was driving at highway speed during daylight hours when he failed to stop in time and struck the semi, which was moving slowly in traffic that had backed up due to a car fire two miles downstream. There was severe damage to the mechanic’s truck, with underride of the cab and intrusion up to the right rear tires of the trailer ahead. The force of the collision caused a chain reaction, pushing the struck tractor-trailer forward into a second tractor-trailer that had stopped in backed up traffic. Fire and rescue responders arrived from the nearby town located four miles away. The mechanic, who was wearing a safety belt, suffered blunt force trauma as a result of the collision and was pronounced deceased at the scene. He was extricated by mechanical means from the truck cab and was found holding a cell phone. Law enforcement officers’ examination of the phone activity revealed the mechanic had exchanged several voice/text messages prior to the crash and was initiating a voice/text message application at the time of the collision. The driver’s failure to notice the tractor trailer ahead and stop in time was attributed to texting. Drivers of the other two vehicles were not severely injured.

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Page last reviewed: November 18, 2015