Last June in Tennessee, a seven-car pileup in a construction zone killed six people and injured eighteen more. An investigation into the crash found that the tractor-trailer responsible for the initial collision was traveling at better than 80mph into a zone of heavy traffic; no attempt was made to slow down or evade the snarled traffic. After months of investigation, federal officials with the National Transportation Safety Board reported that the truck’s driver, Benjamin Brewer, was probably fatigued and had tested positive for the drug methamphetamine.
How it happened
Investigators found that Brewer had not slept for at least 40 hours leading up to the crash; initial reports cited a 50-hour long-haul run from Kentucky to Florida and back. Allegedly, Brewer checked in regularly with his employer during that time, indicating that both the driver and the trucking company knowingly violated federal duty regulations. Worse, Brewer shouldn’t have been on the road at all, a fact that a simple commercial driver’s license database like the one proposed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration would have disclosed, but his employer should have discovered nonetheless.
From the New York Daily News:
“In its release of the probable cause findings for the June 2015 crash, the National Transportation Safety Board also cited a failure in the employee screening process to determine that driver Benjamin Brewer of London, Kentucky, had been fired from a previous trucking job two years earlier because of illegal drug use. A hair test administered under an unrelated court order less than three months before the crash had also turned out positive for meth… ‘The driver in this crash should not have been behind the wheel of a large truck,’ said NTSB Chairman Christopher A. Hart. ‘As long as human beings drive trucks, they must be rested and unimpaired.’”
Drugs and driving don’t mix
The loss of life and the injuries sustained by victims of Brewer’s (and his employer’s) negligence is unforgivable, but the circumstances are hardly unusual in the commercial trucking industry. Big companies focus on the bottom line, leaving truck drivers with the option of driving fatigued or turning to illegal stimulants when coffee just won’t cut it anymore. According to data from the FMCSA, around 40% of the drivers who test positive for drugs after a fatal accident were using some form of stimulant.
Benjamin Brewer shouldn’t have been allowed behind the wheel of a commercial truck; his proven history of drug use and abuse directly caused the deaths of six people and the emotional pain and suffering of dozens more. When companies ignore the law and drivers ignore common sense, people suffer. At Crandall & Pera Law, we fight for victims and their families when they need us most. Our experienced Kentucky commercial truck accident attorneys can help get you the compensation your family deserves in their time of need. For a free consultation, call our Ohio truck accident attorneys at 877.686.8879, our Kentucky truck accident attorneys at 877.651.7764, or contact us today.