Woman working to make Kentucky roads safer after her mom died in large truck crash

A new report ranks Kentucky as one of the deadliest states for truck crashes.
Published: Nov. 2, 2023 at 11:22 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - A new report ranks Kentucky as one of the deadliest states for truck crashes.

In 2021, Kentucky had 2.8 fatal truck crashes per 100,000 people. The national average is 1.7.

2021 is also when Raven Eisenbeis lost her mother to one of those crashes.

It was a rainy day in January 2021 when Naomi Sparrow was on I-65, driving from Hart County back to her home in Louisville.

The rainy conditions made her lose control of her car and forced her to pull over.

“While her car was parked on the side of the road, her car was struck by a semi-truck following an SUV,” Eisenbeis said. “She was killed instantly. She was 47 years old. She left behind four children and a grandchild.”

Her car was barely recognizable after the crash.

“Wet roads, the need to suddenly brake. Can’t do it,” Zach Cahalan with the Truck Safety Coalition said.

The group helps and supports victims of large truck crashes like Eisenbeis.

“It was a really hard thing to go through,” Eisenbeis said. “It was very sudden. That pain, I don’t want anyone else to go through that. Or to feel what my family felt.”

Eisenbeis turned to the Coalition after the crash and is now working with them to try and make Kentucky roads safer from large trucks.

A report using the most recent data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says Kentucky was top ten for deadly truck crashes.

“If you just look at deaths since 2014 in Kentucky,” Cahalan said. “They’ve increased a whopping 88% from large trucks.”

Cahalan said it’s not a problem many people realize.

“When you see all those trucks on the freeway, statistically speaking, one out of every five shouldn’t be on the road,” Cahalan said. “Because it’s got a violation that’s so bad, it shouldn’t be road-worthy. It has to be addressed.”

He told WAVE news they’re waiting for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to propose a rule that all large trucks have to use a speed limiter.

“The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration estimates 20% of fatal crashes happen at speeds above 70 miles per hour,” Cahalan said. “So this is an incredible opportunity to slow down trucks.”

In the meantime, Eisenbeis said having support from the Coalition has helped her deal with the tragedy.

“I think it’s helped to be able to talk to people that have been through the same tragedy as me,” Eisenbeis said. “And to have that support to lean on because a lot of people don’t understand because they haven’t experienced what I have.”

The coalition said 2021 was one of the worst years for truck crash deaths in modern history. The organization also said there were more than 5,700 deaths and more than 155,000 injuries.