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Driver killed in I-40 wreck identified

By Gavin Lesnick

This article was published July 10, 2014 at 6:42 a.m.

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Emergency officials respond to the scene of an accident Wednesday afternoon on Interstate 40 involving three tractor-trailers and a white Cadillac.

Authorities have identified a driver killed in a wreck Wednesday evening on Interstate 40 in North Little Rock.

Arkansas State Police say Ronnie L. Smith, 53, of Dallas died when a Peterbilt tractor-trailer failed to stop for slowing traffic near the Galloway Road exit and hit the rear of his 2012 Cadillac CTS. The impact sent the Cadillac into a Freightliner tractor-trailer ahead of it.

The Peterbilt truck then also hit the Freightliner, and the Freightliner then hit a Volvo van, police said.

The crash happened about 5 p.m., snarling traffic in the area for hours. Smith was pronounced dead at the scene about 6:20 p.m.

The drivers of the Peterbilt and Freightliner trucks were taken to Baptist Health Medical Center for treatment of unspecified injuries, authorities said.

The death and three others Wednesday raised to 217 the number of people killed in vehicle crashes in Arkansas so far this year, according to preliminary figures.

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dmsquare says... July 10, 2014 at 8:59 a.m.

Poor man, God rest his soul. I am a frequent driver on I-40 and I've had a few close calls involving 18-wheelers. When you have something that big coming at you, there is nothing you can do but pray.

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KCSAP says... July 10, 2014 at 10:14 a.m.

Agreed, God bless his soul. When will the law makers address the ever growing fatality problem caused by tractor trailer drivers that are more concerned about their schedule and getting their text messages out, than they are about the potential death and destruction they are causing! I witness these drivers daily. There needs to be more laws, why do they need to be in all 3 lanes of traffic going through town? They cut people off routinely. Wake up lawmakers!

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LR1955 says... July 10, 2014 at 11 a.m.

These monster trucks should be outfitted with an automatic breaking system activated by close distance to an object in front of them. Many of the newer cars have this. And an old fashion governor on the engine would help too. Slow those big dogs down.

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GiveUsLiberty says... July 10, 2014 at 11:33 a.m.

Big rigs should be restricted to the inside lane. I travel I-40 weekly and big rigs in the outside lane only congest traffic and cause dangerous situations. In areas between LR & Conway where there are now three lanes, I have observed big rigs in all three lanes. Our State Police & Highway Police should direct their efforts towards maintaining safe, free flowing traffic as opposed to writing speeding tickets. Maintaining posted minimum speeds (45mph) are just as important as monitoring maximum speeds. Encouraging slower drivers to use the inside lanes is a must. We're all going to die of something; I just don't want it to be like the unfortunate soul on I--40 yesterday.

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HalALouyah says... July 10, 2014 at 11:52 a.m.

We were stuck in this for 3 hours last night. The one thing I would say would be for all drivers to immediately look in your rear view mirror as soon as traffic on an interstate starts coming to a stop; pull over on the shoulder if you feel like something like this will happen. If you cannot get over to the shoulder you are following too closely; I was not driving but when we came up on this wreck our driver pulled over on the shoulder just to be safe. You have to be very alert on I 40 between Memphis and LR

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JIMBOB47 says... July 10, 2014 at 2:29 p.m.

GiveUsLiberty is right about restricted lanes for big rigs. In Europe, ALL big rigs MUST stay in the right lanes ONLY. Too bad if they only go as fast as the slowest one. A few minutes delay is better than DEAD!! More often than not, the trucks on I-40 are going 75+ in the left lane AND right lane.. We can't hire enough state police to stop them all, so engine governors would certainly be a good idea, too.

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LR1955 says... July 10, 2014 at 3:34 p.m.

Ark law says big rigs are not suppose to exceed 5 or 10 mph below the posted limit.

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SPA says... July 10, 2014 at 4:32 p.m.

I too would like to see the rigs restricted to the inside lanes, except when they are passing a much slower vehicle. BUT, as noted elsewhere, there seems to be no enforcement of the lower speed limits for trucks. I have noticed this everywhere I travel. Is there no longer a requirement for trucks to travel more slowly than cars? There should be! Their huge size and weight should figure into that. Frankly, I wish we'd see more of a move to rail, vs. transfer trucks. When I am traveling, and on the road at night, the great, great majority of traffic on the roads is trucks. It's almost scary to be among them.

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Jfish says... July 10, 2014 at 4:43 p.m.

People driving too slow causes some accidents, however, they are far outnumbered by speeding accidents. I agree with Jimbo, you rarely see a truck going less than 70-75mph in either lane on I-40. We as a society demand fast deliveries, you know, we want everything yesterday, so the trucks are a product of our demands. Barges and trains are much more fuel efficient, but not as mobile as the trucks.

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Hoghead101 says... July 10, 2014 at 5:30 p.m.

The problem is with all drivers, not just the big rigs. It is driving too close for the speed at which the vehicle is going. Almost everyone does this and yet we are surprised when the inevitable happens. I hate to see it happen, but not surprised.

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