Last month, an Illinois State Police trooper was killed when a semi truck collided with his squad car. According to Chicago.cbslocal.com, the 28-year old trooper was pulled over on the left shoulder of Interstate 294 near Willow Road in northwest suburban Northfield Township just after 11pm when he was hit behind by the semi. It was not clear why the trooper was stopped or if his vehicle’s emergency lights were on. Witnesses told investigators that they saw the semi, a United Van Lines truck, in the left lane before the crash.
After the impact of the collision, both vehicles burst into flames. Witnesses say it was hard to even make out the squad car among the tangled and burnt metal. A later autopsy determined the primary causes of the trooper’s death were thermal injuries from the fire, as well as inhalation injuries and minor head injuries. The truck driver walked away from the accident with nothing but a burnt hand.
As of a few weeks ago, the medial examiner’s office ruled the trooper’s death an accident and the semi truck driver was not charged with any crime or wrongdoing related to the accident. But now, our wrongful death lawyers have learned that after further investigation, recent reports obtained by Sun-times state the semi driver fell asleep behind the wheel before his vehicle veered out of its lane and struck the trooper. The trucker was initially issued a ticket for improper lane usage but it was dismissed soon after, according to a state police spokeswoman. Authorities are continuing to reconstruct the site of the crash to find out additional details relating to why the crash happened, and higher charges may result. Among the things that will be looked at are the trucker’s driving history, how many hours he had been behind the wheel without a break, and the results of drug and alcohol tests administered as required by state law after a fatal accident.
DWD, or Driving While Drowsy, is a large concern for many Illinois drivers. The Illinois Department of Transportation lists DWD as a cause of around 40,000 injuries and 1,550 deaths every year. Additionally, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that 100,000 police-reported crashes are the direct result of driver fatigue each year. This not only results in deaths and injuries, but also close to $12.5 billion in monetary losses. Truck drivers are particularly susceptible to driver fatigue because of the long hours they travel each day and into the late hours of the night. Drowsy driving can be compared to drinking and driving, as both drastically decrease driver awareness and increase behavior that can lead to accidents.
Truck drivers facing many regulations before driving, such as ensuring they are well rested, all equipment is working properly, and they are not drinking and driving. For other motorists, it is important to follow similar guidelines before driving. If you feel drowsy 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.
Despite many drivers taking the necessary steps to drive safely, accidents unfortunately continue to happen as a result of negligent motorists. We represent individuals who have suffered injury, medical expenses, or property damage as the result of a trucking accident caused by a negligent motorist. We understand that the consequences of a trucking accident can be life altering and are prepared to offer you the resources you need to seek legal action. Please contact us to learn about what compensation may be available to you.