As a Missouri semi truck accident attorney, I was saddened and disappointed to see a report about a truck accident that took two lives—in part, investigators suspect, because the driver was breaking hours-of-service laws. According to OzarksFirst.com, trucker Lei Sun of California is charged with two counts of first-degree involuntary manslaughter for running his truck into two stopped vehicles. Sun is accused of failing to stop at an intersection in Republic, in Greene County, and in fact driving at nearly 20 mph over the speed limit. His tractor-trailer ran into the backs of a pickup truck belonging to Lawrence Coan Jr., 65, of Kimberling City, and Corey Gresham, 41, of Macon. An onboard computer in Sun’s tractor-trailer showed that in addition to speeding, he had been driving over the allowed hours.
The crash shut down the westbound lanes of Highway 60, where the accident took place at its intersection with Oakwood. The Greene County Prosecutor’s office said Sun’s onboard computer said he’d been traveling at 59.5 mph in a 40-mph zone just before the accident. His failure to stop caused his truck to collide with Coan’s pickup, which was pushed into a Nissan sedan driven by Gresham. Both smaller vehicles were smashed into a semi stopped in front of them, most likely killing both victims at the scene. Sun was taken into custody at the scene. In a followup report, the newspaper spoke to a student at a local truck driving school, who said following the law could have prevented this crash. The student said the law limits drivers to eleven hours behind the road per day and requires them to keep accurate logs. An instructor added that the onboard computer in Sun’s truck is for maintenance, but also makes it easy to catch lies in logbooks.
As a St. Louis tractor-trailer accident lawyer, I am pleased that this truck carried an electronic on-board recorder that made it easy for authorities to identify violations of the law. Safety rules are in place for the very good reason that fatigued truck drivers are unsafe truck drivers. In fact, studies have shown that a sufficiently tired driver—in a truck or a car—is no better at driving than a driver with a 0.08% blood-alcohol concentration. Currently, the U.S. government only requires electronic on-board recorders in trucks belonging to companies with a bad record of compliance with hours-of-service rules. But the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has proposed to require them in all trucks, and despite opposition by the trucking industry, mandatory EOBRs are still likely to become the rule. As this case shows, it’s a good and useful rule.
At Carey, Danis & Lowe, we focus our practice on accidents with large commercial trucks because we know how devastating they can be. An 18-wheeler is so much bigger than a passenger car that a collision between the two of them is likely to seriously hurt the people in the car. Not every crash takes place at the dangerously high speeds that this one did, but the victims can still be killed or left with lifelong disabilities. In addition to being personally devastating for victims and their families, this can quickly become very expensive. When the victims can no longer work, or are out of work for months due to serious injuries, the income they and their families rely on is lost immediately. Our southern Illinois big rig accident attorneys help families seek the money they need to replace that income, pay their medical bills and be fairly compensated for their injuries.
If you or someone you love suffered devastating injuries because of a trucker’s or trucking company’s negligence, don’t wait to call Carey, Danis & Lowe. You can reach us through our website or call 1-877-678-3400 today.
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