On January 27, 2014, Douglas Balder, a State Trooper in Illinois, was helping a stalled big-rig on the Ronald Regan Memorial Tolloway. His car was hit by a tractor-trailer whose driver was falling asleep behind the wheel. This is how the Huffington Post described the result of the crash:
“The impact crushed the [fusion_builder_container hundred_percent="yes" overflow="visible"][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type="1_1" background_position="left top" background_color="" border_size="" border_color="" border_style="solid" spacing="yes" background_image="" background_repeat="no-repeat" padding="" margin_top="0px" margin_bottom="0px" class="" id="" animation_type="" animation_speed="0.3" animation_direction="left" hide_on_mobile="no" center_content="no" min_height="none"][trooper’s] Crown Vic’s trunk, exploding the gas tank and catapulting the patrol car into a roadside ditch. The three 14,580-pound steel coils chained to [truck driver Renato] Velazquez’s trailer bed burst their restraints. One of the massive rolls struck the cab of the Tollway [towing] vehicle, instantly killing its 39-year-old driver Vincent Petrella and injuring Agron Xhelaj, the driver of the stalled truck who was seated beside him” (emphasis ours).
Mr. Valasquez hit the trooper’s car at 63 miles per hour. The exploding gas tank literally set Mr. Balder on fire. He suffered burns on a third of his body. Doctors had to put him in a medically induced coma. He’s still in rehab, after 10 surgeries and three months in the hospital.
If it seems like we are really hammering this home, it is because of this: we want you to see the horrific impact of a truck accident with a fatigued driver. We want you to understand, truly understand, why drowsy driving is so dangerous. And we want you to know that the reason you have seen and heard about and read an increasing number of stories about this topic is because Congress has taken steps over the last few years to modify truck safety regulations put in place to stop these types of horrific accidents.
The trucking industry is lobbying for changes that suit them, not you
Right now, a tractor-trailer can only haul up to 80,000lbs, per the federal limit. Trailers max out at 28 feet in length. Truck drivers can only work 70 hours a week. The youngest commercial truck drivers are 21 years old. Insurance requirements are high, and reports about the safety of trucking companies are all open to the public.
For now. These are the regulations that lobbyists are trying to change, and Congress is slowly but surely giving in to them. When the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration changed the rules about how long a truck driver could be on the road, lobbyists almost convinced Congress to overturn the rule. They convinced a Maine Senator to add a provision to a transportation bill that “temporarily barr[ed] FMCSA from spending any money to enforce its new rule and requiring additional study of the issue to a $54 billion transportation bill during an untelevised legislative markup in June 2014.” The news of the Tracy Morgan crash put an end to it, but that same Senator found a way to slip it back in under another bill.
Truck driver fatigue is a very real problem, and the numbers of crashes caused by drivers asleep at the wheel is increasing. As long as Congress allows lobbyists from the trucking industry to dictate safety regulations, we are all at risk – truck drivers too – of being seriously injured by a distracted or fatigued driver.
If you sustained an injury in a crash with a truck driver in Ohio or Kentucky, Crandall & Pera Law want to hear your story. Our killed truck accident lawyers have the resources and experience to handle complex injury claims. Please contact us to learn more.[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]