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Five people died and one was injured Friday after a highway collision in which a concrete pump truck struck five vehicles head-on and caught fire on the 10 Freeway near Rialto, CA.

The six-axle truck was traveling westbound when it veered through the metal center divider and struck five vehicles near the Riverside Avenue exit. The highway collision left several vehicles overturned and caused a massive fire, which made identifying the victims challenging.

The five fatalities were pronounced at the scene. The only victim identified as of Sunday morning is Dudley White, 74, of Twentynine Palms. The identity and condition of the injured person is unknown at this time.

The driver of the concrete pump truck – the only occupant in the truck – suffered minor injuries and was not hospitalized, according to California Highway Patrol (CHP) Sgt. Spencer Badal. Authorities interviewed the driver, whose identity has not been released.

The truck is registered to Western Concrete Pumping, a company based in Vista in San Diego County.

One of the vehicles hit by the concrete pump truck was a dump truck. The driver of that vehicle was uninjured.

What caused the concrete pump truck to crash into oncoming traffic is unknown, and authorities told the Los Angeles Times that a “full mechanical review” of the vehicle will be conducted. “Their report will take a considerable amount of time,” Badal said.

In addition, the CHP is asking that anyone who recorded dashcam video of the highway collision to call 909-383-4247.

All lanes of the 10 Freeway were reopened to traffic flow by 8 a.m. Saturday, 16 hours after the crash.

highway collision

A highway collision Friday afternoon on the 10 Freeway near Rialto, CA, killed five people and injured another. (Photo/Terry Pierson, The Press Enterprise)

Highway collision:
Driver errors, mechanical defects

According to the National Motor Vehicle Crash Causation Survey conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 94 percent of highway collisions are attributable to the driver. According to the NHTSA, “The driver-related critical reasons are broadly classified into recognition errors, decision errors, performance errors, and non-performance errors.”

Approximately 2 percent (or 47,000) are attributable to the vehicle itself: “… though none of these reasons implied a vehicle causing the crash. There were no detailed inspections of vehicles during the NMVCCS on-scene crash investigation; the vehicle-related critical reasons were mainly inferred through external visual inspection of the vehicle components. This resulted in only mostly external, easily visible factors (tires, brakes, steering column, etc.) that were cited as the few vehicle-related critical reasons. The related statistics may not, therefore, be representative of the role of other internal vehicle related problems that might have led to the crash.”

Tires/wheels and brakes were cited as the critical reason in more than half (25,000) of that 44,000 total.

Highway collision:
10 percent of deaths involve big trucks

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Highway Loss Data Institute, approximately 10 percent of highway deaths occur in crashes involving a large truck. Most deaths in large-truck crashes are occupants of passenger vehicles.

Contributing factors in this type of highway collision include:

  • Vulnerability of people in smaller vehicles: Trucks weigh 20-30 times as much as passenger vehicles. In addition, they are taller with higher ground clearance.
  • Truck braking capability: Loaded tractor-trailers take 20 to 50 percent farther than cars to stop. The discrepancy is greater on wet and slippery roads or with poorly maintained brakes.
  • Truck driver fatigue: Drivers of large trucks are allowed by federal regulations to drive up to 11 hours at a stretch. Surveys indicate that many drivers violate the regulations and work longer than permitted.