As a Missouri semi truck accident attorney, I was saddened to read earlier this month about a crash that took the lives of six people. The central Kentucky crash involved truck driver Ibrahim Fetic, who apparently failed to brake in time to avoid rear-ending an SUV with eight occupants, which burst into flame. Now, according to Fleet Owner, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has ordered Fetic’s trucking company to shut down. On the day of the crash, the agency said, Fetic had been driving well in excess of his allotted hours and falsified his log. The FMCSA also shut down trucking company General Trucking, citing a company-wide practice of unsafe behaviors.
The Kentucky crash took place March 2. Fetic, of Michigan, told Kentucky state troopers that he failed to slow on time to avoid crashing into an SUV driven by James Gollnow, 62, of Wisconsin. Also in the car were Barbara Gollnow, 62; Marion Champnoise, 92; Sareena Gollnow, 18; Gabirel Zumig, 10; Soledad Smith, 8; Hope Hoth, 15; and Aidian Ejnik, 12. The last four were the family’s foster children; they were returning home from a Disney World trip. Ejnik and Hoth were rescued with injuries that were not life-threatening, but the other occupants died. Fetic and a driver in a third vehicle were not seriously injured. Two days after the crash, the Associated Press reported that Highway Star had 17 regulatory violations over the past two years, which led the FMCSA to advise states to inspect its vehicles closely. Its driver inspections, which are done according to separate criteria, resulted in an above-average number of license revocations.
The FMCSA’s shutdown order takes away Highway Star’s ability to operate, declaring it an imminent hazard to highway safety. The agency says Highway Star failed to require drivers to comply with hours of service regulations, and either permitted or required drivers to falsify their logbooks. It also failed to preserve older records, the FMCSA said, thus making it impossible to ensure that drivers were complying with HOS regulations. After the crash, the shutdown order says, the FMCSA determined that Highway Star’s drivers falsified their logs 47.3 percent of the time; it was two-thirds of the time for Fetic. Kentucky authorities found two different, conflicting logbooks in Fetic’s truck’s cab, and FMCSA inspectors determined from GPS records that Fetic had driven more than 18 hours over his 70-hour weekly limitation in the week before the crash.
Though the FMCSA doesn’t expressly say so, all of this information suggests that it believes Highway Star had a policy of encouraging or requiring drivers to violate the hours-of-service rules. As a St. Louis 18-wheeler accident lawyer, I know this is a common problem with trucking companies and truck drivers that get involved in serious crashes. Drivers and companies have a financial incentive to violate the rules, because they lose money when they don’t make their deliveries on time. But the hours of service rules exist for a good reason: studies show driver fatigue is highly likely to lead to a crash; one study compared driving with severe fatigue to driving drunk. But when trucking companies intentionally ignore the law for profit, deadly accidents can result. My job as a southern Illinois tractor-trailer accident attorney is to help victims and their families seek justice and fair compensation.
If you or someone you love suffered a serious injury because of a trucker’s or trucking company’s negligence, don’t wait to call Carey, Danis & Lowe for a free consultation. You can reach us through our website or call 1-877-678-3400.
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