Forklift Accident Offers Life-Saving Lesson to Operators

Police Line Do Not CrossAn early morning forklift accident on a dimly lit country road in rural Pennsylvania that sent four people to the hospital could offer a valuable, potentially life-saving lesson to other operators.

The accident occurred on Little Britain Road South, in Fulton Township, near Lancaster, Pennsylvania, about 5:30 in the morning on Tuesday, Aug. 30. A pickup truck driver suddenly came up on a slow-moving forklift that was carrying three people, including a pregnant woman and a 12-year-old boy.

No Warning Lights

According to police investigators, the forklift’s rear end did not have any lights or even any reflectors, making it nearly impossible for the pickup driver — Perry Griest, 598, of Nottingham, Pennsylvania — to see the forklift in the early morning darkness.

The crash, which occurred in a rural area southwest of Philadelphia, sent four people to area hospitals. Mary G. Stoltzfus, 33, of Peach Bottom, Pennsylvania, who was eight months pregnant, was among them. She was not seriously injured but was listed in fair condition at Lancaster General Hospital, hospital officials said.

Abner Stoltzfus, 34, and the boy also suffered injuries, but they were considered not serious.

Picking Produce

Police said Abner and Mary both were sitting in the driver’s seat while their son was kneeling on the back of the forklift. It was not clear if the boy was able to leap off the vehicle prior to the collision with the pickup truck. The family had been transporting fresh produce from a field to their roadside vegetable stand when the collision occurred.

While investigators continue to piece together what happened, the lack of lights or reflectors on the forklift may have contributed to the accident. Photos taken at the scene show an aged, single-seat forklift sitting in a ditch near the side of the road.

Increasing Visibility

Forklifts typically move significantly slower than other vehicles operating on public roads. So it’s important that operators make sure their vehicles can be easily seen, especially when it is dark out.

Lift trucks that don’t come equipped with rear running lights can be retrofitted with safety lights, flashers, or simply reflectors to make them more visible to other drivers.

There are even collision detectors that can sense if pedestrians or other vehicles are nearby and set off a warning siren as well as a spinning light to avoid accidents.

Forklifts account for more than 85 deaths and 34,900 serious injuries each year, according to statistics from the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration.


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