A 39-year-old man died following a head-on collision on Highway 12 east of the Mokelumne Bridge on Thursday morning, according to the California Highway Patrol.
The accident closed both lanes of traffic for several hours.
Witnesses told CHP that a Chevrolet Silverado pickup was traveling west when it drifted into the eastbound lane and collided with a big-rig around 7:45 a.m.
The driver of the pickup was pronounced dead at the scene, according to CHP Officer Dan Sepulveda. The driver of the big-rig, a 32-year-old male, sustained minor injuries.
The pick-up was traveling between 60 and 65 miles per hour, Sepulveda said. The speed limit along Highway 12 is 55 mph.
It’s unknown if alcohol or drugs played a factor in the accident. The driver of the pickup either drifted into the oncoming lane or was attempting to pass another vehicle, Sepulveda said.
Thursday’s accident marks the third fatal collision this year along Highway 12 between the San Joaquin and Sacramento county lines east of the Lodi city limits, according to CHP. It also comes less than a month after the CHP launched a campaign to encourage safe driving along Highway 12 — a campaign that was sparked by a rash of injury accidents on the highway in recent months.
There have been 25 injury accidents through August of this year, according to the CHP.
For several weeks, starting on Labor Day weekend, CHP increased patrol efforts on the ground and in the air in order to prevent another fatal accident.
“A machine isn’t a toy,” said CHP Officer James Smith. “It’s 2,000 pounds, and at 60 mph that’s a missile.”
Sepulveda is unsure if Thursday’s accident will cause the CHP to reopen its campaign, but he is encouraging drivers to obey the speed limits and drive with their headlights on.
“Times like this, we encourage people to follow the speed limit,” he said. “We encourage the public to take extra caution in their driving.”
Contact reporter Kristopher Anderson at firstname.lastname@example.org.