A fatal trucking accident in southwestern Missouri tragically left two dead. It is now suspected that a contributing factor in the accident was driver fatigue. Reportedly, the driver of the semi has now been charged with two counts of involuntary manslaughter related to the accident.
The accident occurred when two vehicles were stopped at a traffic light behind a semi and then the semi driven by the accused crashed into them. Investigators say the two smaller vehicles were sandwiched between the semis and both of the drivers of the sandwiched vehicles were killed.
KY3 News reported that the driver of the second semi may have been driving more hours than permitted by federal trucking regulations. If true, the extra hours may have resulted in dangerous driver fatigue, contributing to the accident. KY3 News also reported that Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) records indicate that over a two-year period and four separate inspections, about half of this particular trucking company’s drivers were “deemed out of service.”
A little more than a year ago, the FMCSA amended their Hours of Service Rules in an effort to reduce driver fatigue and increase highway safety. However, many of the rule’s changes will not be in effect until July 1st of this year. For example, the maximum average driving time limit will be reduced from 82 hours in seven days to 70 hours in seven days. Furthermore, drivers will be required to take a minimum of a 30 minute break after eight hours of work.
Unfortunately, the amendments to the trucking regulations will not reduce driver fatigue if they are not followed by semi drivers. Drivers who continue to exceed limitations will still pose a threat to motorists. If you are in a trucking accident, contact an attorney immediately so that an investigation can be conducted to determine if the driver or trucking company can be held liable for medical bills, lost wages, and/or other damages.