Work fatigue has become the rule rather than the exception for many Chicago employees especially since the recession made jobs less plentiful and more competitive. Many Cook County employers require extended daily or weekend hours to meet production demand or client deadlines.
Job expectations and unemployment fears sometimes drive workers to perform beyond safe boundaries. The risks of placing a tired employee behind the wheel of a heavily-laden, high-speed tractor-trailer are obvious but not always recognized by drivers pressured to perform or their employers.
Inattentive driving contributes to fender benders, injury crashes and fatal accidents. Drivers are responsible for staying alert. Commercial trucking firms are accountable for harm caused by drivers forced to break rest period regulations.
A 37-year-old Illinois truck driver could spend as long as 20 years in prison for a horrific accident police said was avoidable. The man fell asleep while driving a tractor trailer along Interstate 80 in Nebraska last year. State troopers reported the driver had been on the road 15 hours.
Early morning highway traffic had come to a stop to allow emergency crews to deal with a separate crash. The defendant's rig was traveling at 75 mph when it slammed into the back of one of two vehicles carrying members of the same family. The force of the crash drove the struck car into the one ahead of it. The second car was shoved beneath another tractor-trailer and caught fire.
The victims were a family relocating from the East Coast to the West Coast. Five family members lost their lives including a husband and wife driving separate cars, the couple's unborn son and two toddlers. The wife had been 30 weeks pregnant.
Victims are compensated through Illinois civil courts when negligent drivers cause preventable accidents. Irresponsibility can be traced to a driver's personal behavior and, in some cases, to the influence of an employer willing to trade safety for profit.
nebraskaradionetwork.com, "Trucker who killed Maryland family in fiery crash on I-80 pleads guilty" Brent Martin, Sep. 06, 2013