By The Associated Press
INDIANAPOLIS — A woman and her 18-month-old twin daughters died in a fiery, seven-vehicle crash on an Indianapolis freeway, authorities said.
Indiana State Police say the crash happened about midday Sunday on eastbound Interstate 465. A preliminary police investigation has revealed that a semi tractor-trailer hit the back of a line of vehicles backed-up in traffic due to construction. The first car struck caught fire.
Police said in a statement that 29-year-old Alanna Norman Koons and her daughters, June and Ruby Koons, of Indianapolis, died in that vehicle.
Police say the semi driver, 57-year-old Bruce Pollard of Sturgeon, Missouri, was speeding. He was arrested on preliminary charges including reckless homicide. Court records Monday don't list a lawyer who can speak on his behalf.
Police say seven others were hospitalized in the crash.
It wasn't clear how fast Pollard was traveling, but safety advocates say a bipartisan bill introduced in the U.S. Senate late last month could help to prevent or at least lessen the impact of crashes like this.
The measure sponsored by Sens. Johnny Isakson, a Georgia Republican, and Chris Coons, a Delaware Democrat, would require semis to have electronic devices that limit their speed to 65 mph. The measure would take the place of a proposed Department of Transportation regulation that has "languished in the federal process" for over a decade, the sponsors said.
The majority of trucks on U.S. roads already have the speed-limiting software built in, but it's not always used. Most other countries already use it to cap truck speeds, Isakson said in a statement.
Trucking industry groups say speed limiters would create dangerous speed differentials between trucks and cars that will cause traffic jams and increase the likelihood of crashes.
The bill also would circumvent Trump's transportation department, which has delayed any action on the proposed rule indefinitely as part of a retreat from regulations the president says slow the economy.
The proposed rule has been stuck since it moved through the public comment stage in November of 2016 toward the end of the Obama administration. The next action on the rule is listed as "undetermined" on a federal website.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, one of the department's agencies that proposed the regulation, has said it received many public comments expressing concerns about the analysis supporting the regulation. The agency said it "will work to ensure that any future decision intended to advance public safety will be grounded in sound analysis."
When the regulation was proposed, the transportation department wrote that limiting truck speeds to 65 mph would save 63 to 214 lives per year. The bill's sponsors say that there are 1,115 fatal crashes every year involving heavy trucks on roads with speed limits of 55 mph or higher.
The Senate bill also could solve another problem: Most heavy truck tires aren't designed to travel over 75 mph, but some states have 80 mph speed limits. If the trucks exceed the tire speed rating, it can cause blowouts and crashes.