Articles Posted in fatigued driving

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Imagine a city bus full of passengers heading down a busy city street. The bus driver slumps over in his seat. The bus blows through a red light and T-bones a car, sending it spinning around in the street. Just like in the movies, the bus keeps crashing into cars and taxis as it careens through intersections. This scenario happened in New York City last night. The driver lost consciousness while going north on Madison Avenue near East 81st at around 7:05 p.m.

A frightened but quick thinking passenger, Guy Praisler, rushed to the front of the bus, jerked at the driver and grabbed the wheel. hero bus crash.JPG The driver then woke-up and hit the brakes.

Really?? Now the bus driver claims to have fainted. As someone who has investigated dozens of bus and truck crashes, this sounds like a classic case of a fatigued bus driver falling asleep behind the wheel. The statistics would certainly indicate that fatigue is the most likely cause of this crash.
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tired truck driver.jpgOdds are that if you are driving on an interstate highway, more than 25% of the tractor-trailers you see will be operated by a fatigued truck driver. This is because approximately 3 million U.S. truck drivers have what is called Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). OSA is characterized by sleep-disordered breathing that results in daytime sleepiness, sleep attacks, micro-sleeps, psychomotor deficits, and disrupted nighttime sleep. OSA dramatically increases a truck driver’s risk of being involved in a fatal truck accident. Unfortunately, many truck companies continue to deny that many of their drivers suffer from OSA and refuse to conduct company sponsored screening for the disorder. The problem of fatigued truck drivers has been a deadly problem for years.

In 2008, the medical advisory panel of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration – the government agency that regulates the truck industry – recommended that companies screen their drivers for OSA. Very few truck companies have done anything to identify which of their drivers have OSA. One exception, is Schneider National Trucking.

Don Osterberg is the Vice-president of Safety at Schneider. He stated, “[s]o now we’re three and a half years later and the DOT has taken no action.” The lack of a federal regulation did not stop Schneider from taking responsibility for its drivers. Schneider screened all of its more than 2000 truck drivers. They discovered that a very significant percentage suffered from OSA. The great thing about this disease is “how effectively it can be treated,” Osterberg said. Schneider’s program is not perfect, but at least they have taken a huge step in the right direction. More screening and regular monitoring is needed throughout the trucking industry.

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nevada train crash.jpgA tractor-trailer driver slammed his big rig into the side of an AmTrak train at a public crossing in a rural Nevada town on Friday. The collision ripped several of the train cars apart and caused a terrible fire. The LA Times reported at least 6 people, including the truck driver, were killed and scores were injured.

The passenger train was traveling from Chicago to California at the time of the crash. Two of the passengers on the train were from Wilmington, North Carolina. Grandfather Jay Peterson and his grandson Chris Lachance planned for their train journey to be a great summer adventure – destined for a toy train convention – but it was full of more excitement than they expected. The two North Carolina citizens stayed calm during the disaster and provided much needed help and aid to those who were injured.
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truck accident avoid.jpgWith over 5,000 people dying in truck crashes each year on our nation’s highways, it is important for every driver to understand all of the ways to avoid being involved in such a collision.

1. Stay Out Of The Truck’s Blind Spots – If you are sharing the road with a commercial motor vehicle such as a tractor-trailer, either trail behind the truck at a safe distance or pass it quickly. Do not ride along beside the truck! Most crashes between cars and trucks occur when a truck changes lanes and collides with a passenger vehicle. Don’t get caught in the blind spot.

2. Leave Yourself An Escape Zone – When passing a tractor-trailer, you should always plan on the truck coming over on you in your lane. If you plan for such an emergency, then you will be prepared in the event it happens and have a plan for what to do. The most important thing to plan for is where to move your car. For example, if you are passing a large truck on an interstate highway, do not attempt to pass while you are crossing a bridge. Why? Because there is no where to move your vehicle in the event a truck comes over into your lane. Instead, wait until you have an open stretch of highway with a wide shoulder before you start your passing maneuver.
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Cary Motorcyclist Killed by Hit & Run TT.jpgThursday evening, around 7 pm on I-85 southbound near Henderson, NC, a tractor-trailer driven by Michael Gray Rigsbee, 38, struck a motorcyclist. The impact near mile marker 220 caused Sean Christopher Newman, of Cary, to lose control of his motorcycle and crash into the median. The severe impact instantly and tragically killed Newman. Unbelievably, the truck driver did not stop after the collision.

North Carolina State Highway Patrol Troopers caught up with the criminal truck driver approximately 20 miles further down the interstate. State Troopers charged the truck driver with 2nd degree murder, careless and reckless driving, and felony hit & run. The truck driver is currently behind bars in the Vance County Jail under a $120,000 bond. Let’s hope he stays there.
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Statesville Truck Wreck.JPGA serious crash closed Interstate 40 for over an hour Monday evening when a westbound Lincoln Town Car crossed the median and went under the rear wheels of an eastbound tractor-trailer. The collision happened just east of the Radio Road bridge that crosses I-40 near Mile Marker 150. Emergency workers and the North Carolina Highway Patrol shut down all 4 lanes of Interstate 40 while they attempted to rescue the occupants of the car.

Statesville Truck - SHP Qns.JPGTrooper Marty Liles of the State Highway Patrol (SHP) investigated the crash and reported that the car, driven by Rashad Whitner, 32 of Hickory, originally went off of the right side of the westbound lanes, re-entered and crossed the westbound lanes, entered the median and went under the median cables, and then entered the eastbound lanes at which time the car went under the rear of the tractor-trailer and was run over by the trailer’s rear axles.
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weigh station.jpgA lack of manpower in the North Carolina State Highway Patrol Motor Carrier Enforcement Section means that many tractor trailer trucks are running illegally on North Carolina roads and highways.

North Carolina currently ranks sixth (6th) in the nation for truck accidents. This staggering statistic is certainly related to the fact that so many trucks and their drivers are operating outside of the law. In 2009, more than 50 percent (50%) of the tractor trailers inspected in North Carolina had serious safety and/or equipment violations. Of those found to be in violation, more than twelve percent (12%) were in such bad shape that they were shut down and

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Doug Harrell.jpgOn October 13, 2005, a young man road his bicycle on the side of a rural North Carolina highway from his cousin’s house back to his own home. At the same time, a truck driver had been driving his tractor trailer for 23 hours in a row and was heading back to the truck terminal. As the trucker came up from behind the bicyclist at 73 mph, he didn’t see the bicycle or rider until the last second. The collision killed the young man on the bicycle, and then the truck company cover-up began. Because of the cover-up, no criminal charges were filed, but a relative decided to go under-cover and work for the truck company. The hidden evidence he discovered became the foundation of a wrongful death lawsuit.

Channel 11 ABC Eyewitness News (WTVD) decided to run a feature story about this case because of the disturbing evidence Truck Accident Attorney Brian Davis discovered during the litigation of this case. Click on the below window to view the ABC News Video and see how greed and big business drove one North Carolina truck company to ignore the law and the safety of the general public.


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Ralph Terry Dowdle had a history of minor traffic accidents in his bus prior to the serious crash he caused on Saturday, April 17, 2010 in downtown Asheville. The attached video shows the bus driver slumping over to his right just a few moments before the bus veers left and crashes into a parked car and the fronts of several buildings along College Street.

The accident seriously injured 55-year-old Susan Jane Zakanycz. Her leg was almost severed in the wreck. Unfortunately, the doctors at Memorial Mission could not save her leg, and she had to undergo an amputation.

The Buncombe County District Attorney’s Office decided not the charge the bus driver criminally after it was discovered that he was suffering from an undiagnosed medical condition. Officials have said that the condition is what caused him to crash the bus. Strangely, no one has indicated what this undiagnosed medical condition is or how long he has had it. One condition that could cause similar symptoms is narcolepsy. This is the condition that causes one to suddenly fall asleep. We have encountered this condition in some of the tractor-trailer accident cases we have litigated. In the cases that we’ve handled involving narcolepsy, the at-fault driver was aware of the condition prior to the crash and had not sought medical treatment for fear of losing their job.
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Pate-Dawson Co.gifToday, a senior producer from a regional television station contacted me about Truck Safety in North Carolina. She started the conversation off by noting how many recent tractor-trailer accidents appear to be the result of either truck driver fatigue or unsafe truck equipment.

The producer told me that she was working on an upcoming program that will focus on truck safety and how some truck driver’s and truck company’s failure to be safe have seriously injured or killed North Carolina citizens. She wanted to know if I had any former clients whom I thought would be willing to be interviewed for her news article. One case immediately popped into my mind. The case was against a motor carrier called the Pate-Dawson Company.

One evening a few years ago on a dark rural highway outside of Goldsboro, NC, a tractor-trailer truck owned by restaurant food distributor Pate-Dawson Company ran over a young boy on a bicycle. At the time, the boy was riding his bicycle on the side of a two lane road outside of Goldsboro. The tractor-trailer came up from behind and ran him over.

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