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Lack of sleep blamed for fatal Illinois truck accident

We've been hearing about the dangers that fatigued truck drivers pose on our roads for some time now. Now the National Transportation Safety Board has determined that lack of sleep was likely the cause of a fatal crash just over two years ago near Naperville. The accident, which occurred on Interstate 88, killed a tollway employee and seriously injured an Illinois State Police trooper.

The crash occurred when the truck driver hit a disabled tractor-trailer that had stalled on the interstate. Both the tollway worker and the trooper were at the scene to assist the disabled vehicle when they were struck by the Freightliner. The truck that caused the crash was owned by DND International

The investigation determined that the truck driver likely failed to stop when he encountered the scene due to a lack of sleep. The driver had reportedly slept less than four-and-a-half hours in the day and a half prior to the crash. This is a violation of federal regulations.

The NTSB also faulted DND International for lack of oversight of its employees to ensure that they adhere to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's hours-of-service regulations. The Illinois company had already been classified as "high risk" due to a history of failure to comply with trucking regulations. It, as well as the company that owned the truck that originally stalled, had a history of alerts for hours-of-service noncompliance and unsafe driving.

The NTSB, as a result of its investigation into this tragic crash, has made recommendations to the FMCSA. Among these is a proposal that the agency implement a plan where insurance companies would be notified if trucking companies fell into the high risk category.

The driver of the DND International truck was convicted last year of operating a motor vehicle in a fatigued state, among other violations. He was sentenced to serve three years in prison.

With all of the federal regulations aimed at making trucks safer on the roads, it's understandable that many people assume that companies and their employees adhere to them. Sadly, that is too often not the case. If you or a loved one has been injured in a truck accident, it's wise to seek legal advice to determine what companies and individuals can and should be held liable.

Source: Land Line, "NTSB rules fatigue, HOS violations probable cause of Naperville crash," Greg Grisolano, Feb. 10, 2016

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