In March of this year, a 28-year-old state trooper was traveling on Interstate 294 in Chicago near Willow Road. The trooper was hit by a white tractor-trailer that had reportedly veered out of its lane. Unfortunately, the trooper was killed in the truck accident. An investigation was launched to determine the cause of the crash, and CBS Chicago recently reported that the truck driver had allegedly been sleeping behind the wheel when he veered out of his lane and killed the law enforcement officer.
Our Chicago accident attorneys know that a recent CDC study indicated that as many as 4.2 percent of all drivers in the U.S. had fallen asleep at least one time while driving in the prior 30 days. While the number in Illinois was lower, with only 2.9 percent of in-state drivers admitting to dozing off, there are still many people on the road each day who are driving with their eyes closed, asleep and unaware. This tragic truck accident that led to the death of a young officer of the law is another devastating example of the real consequences of drowsy driving.
Drowsy Driving and Truck Accident
Drowsy driving is always dangerous, but it is especially dangerous when driving a large truck. Large trucks significantly outweigh passenger vehicles and can do serious damage in the event of a crash. When the driver is sleeping and doesn't slow the truck or try to avoid a head-on crash, the risks of a truck accident are compounded. It becomes even more likely that motorists involved in the crash will suffer serious permanent injury or even die as a result of the accident.
To try to prevent these types of devastating accidents, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has imposed time limits on how long a truck driver can operate his or her vehicle before taking a break to rest and sleep. Truck drivers are expected to follow hours-of-service rules and to ensure they get enough rest. Trucking companies are expected to make sure that drivers actually do follow these rules. A log book must be kept by the drivers to prove compliance with FMCSA requirements for time on duty.
In the case of the tragic accident with the truck and the state trooper, the owner of the truck involved in the crash expressed great sympathy for the lost trooper and his surviving family members. The owner has indicated that authorities will have full cooperation in the investigation of the accident. The name of the truck driver has not yet been released to the public, and it is unclear what criminal charges the truck driver may face for causing the death.
Both the truck driver and the trucking company could also become liable in a wrongful death lawsuit based on the accident. Even if the driver did not violate drive time laws, there is undeniably an argument to be made that the driver was negligent for making the dangerous choice to continue driving fatigued.
If you were injured in a truck accident in the Chicago, Illinois area, contact Coplan & Crane at 800-394-6002 or visit our Oak Park office.