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Investigation Finds Truck Driver Was Asleep Before Crash That Killed Illinois State Trooper

With thousands of trucks, cars, and motorcycles traveling Illinois roadways, highways, and interstates each day, it is a sad truth that many accidents and collisions are bound to take place. As often as our truck accident law firm hears about various forms of motor vehicle accidents that occur throughout Illinois and across the country, it remains difficult to grasp that so many of those accidents are caused by careless drivers. The fact that so many injuries and deaths are placed upon innocent individuals and families is saddening when the accidents they were involved in could have easily been prevented. An example of an act of driver negligence that our lawyers are familiar with is driving while fatigued. As of yesterday, we learned that a federal investigation of a crash between a semi-truck and a police cruiser that killed an Illinois State Police trooper revealed the truck driver had been working more than 14 hours and fell asleep at the wheel.

The Chicago Sun Times and Whbf.com reported that Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) records show the 26-year old driver and United Van Lines have been fined for violating rules requiring truck drivers to get enough rest before driving. Though the driver has not yet been charged in connection with the death of the trooper, he and United Van Lines are cooperating with authorities and are “deeply saddened” by the trooper’s death.

This truck driver, along with many others, has violated the “14-hour rule,” which states that a commercial truck driver cannot work for more than 14 hours in a 24-hour period. In recent months, the FMSCA has created new federal hours-of-service rules designed to limit the number of hours a truck driver can operate, and many trucking organizations were less than pleased. Our lawyers read a report released by World.einnews.com detailing the enforcement of these new rules, which as of recently had led to litigation.

The FMCSA continues to express that potential trucking accidents become even more likely with truckers driving long hours in order to meet deadlines. The report states that according to the administration, around 755 deaths and 19,705 injuries occur on U.S. roadways each year due to commercial drivers who are fatigued. As a result of these concerns, the FMCSA created its new federal hour-of service rules with the goal of creating a safer environment on roadways for all motorists. After the rules created an uprising by a number of trucking organizations, specifically the American Trucking Association, the dispute ended up in federal court. The administration had to defend its new rules, stating, “The HOS rule reflects FMCSA’s weighing of scientific evidence and its careful consideration of the potential impacts on health and safety, as well as the costs and the effects of the rule on the public and the regulated industry.”

We learned that opponents primarily disagree with three sections of the new hours-of-service rules, including the new 11-hour daily driving limit, 30-minute required breaks, and 34-hour restart provision. These opponents claim that these changes provide only small safety benefits while severely limiting a driver’s ability to drive, in addition to adding large costs to the economy. There are a small number of groups, however, who oppose these rule changes only for the reason that the 11-hour daily driving limit should be dropped even lower to 10 hours.

Regardless of any disputes that have occurred with the above driving rules, it is evident that driver fatigue is a severe issue. Drowsy driving can be compared to drinking and driving, as both drastically decrease driver awareness and increase careless behavior that can lead to accidents. If you feel drowsy or fatigued before entering your vehicle, refrain from driving or allow another individual to drive for you. If any other circumstances arise that could potentially distract you from driving as attentively as possible, use good judgment in determining what actions you can take to remain safe behind the wheel.

Though truck drivers should abide by many strict regulations before driving, trucking accidents will unfortunately continue to happen. Our attorneys provide qualified legal representation to individuals and families who have been injured or killed as a result of negligent motorists. If you or a loved one was seriously injured in a trucking accident, please contact us for more information.