Truck Driver In Custody After Pile-Up Crash

An out-of-state truck driver faces multiple charges – including vehicular manslaughter – after he allegedly rear-ended another vehicle and triggered a multi-vehicle crash.

The wreck occurred on northbound Interstate 75 near the State Highway 20 interchange in Henry County. Daniel Crane, of Jemez Springs, New Mexico, may have been asleep or dazed when he plowed into the back of 18-year-old Summer Lee. The force of the collision propelled Ms. Lee’s car forward, where it crashed into five other vehicles. She was declared dead at the scene; seven other people were rushed to a local hospital with various injuries. Mr. Crane was arrested at the scene.

Investigators have ruled out alcohol and drugs, and have focused on Hours of Service violations as the most likely cause.

Duty in Truck Crash Cases

Because they travel such great distances by themselves and work such odd hours, long-haul truck drivers are among the most at-risk groups for drowsy driving. In fact, about 15 percent of large truck crashes are directly related to fatigued driving.

In prior years, many drivers, and even most researchers, believed that simple tricks like turning up the radio or air conditioner would mitigate the effects of fatigue. While these things might make drivers feel more alert, at least for a few minutes, they do nothing for the impaired judgement, trouble concentrating, and slower reaction time that arise from drowsy driving. Additionally, the latest research paints a much bleaker picture. Driving after being awake for eighteen consecutive hours is the equivalent of driving with a BAC of .08, which is legally intoxicated in all states.

Compensation in drowsy diving-related vehicle collisions normally includes money for economic damages, such as lost wages, and noneconomic damages, such as loss of consortium (companionship and contribution to household functions). Punitive damages are also available, in many instances.

Truck Drivers and Fatigued Driving

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration uses Hours of Service (HOS) rules to help reduce the number of drowsy truck drivers. The restrictions apply to most bus drivers and long-haul truckers. They include:

  • 11-Hour Rule: Generally, drivers may operate their rigs for a maximum 11 hours at a time, assuming they had at least 10 consecutive hours off before they got behind the wheel.
  • Rest Breaks: If the rig has a sleeper berth, operators may drive longer provided that they have at least an eight-hour break in no more than two increments.
  • 60/70 Limit: Under no circumstances may a trucker driver more than 60 hours in seven consecutive days or 70 hours in eight consecutive days.

To track HOS, most trucks are equipped with electronic timers which are connected to either the ignition or the gear box. An attorney must often act quickly to prevent spoliation (destruction) of evidence in these situations.

Drowsy truck drivers cause serious injuries. For prompt assistance with a truck crash or other accident claim, contact our aggressive personal injury attorneys at Butler Tobin.  Free home and hospital visits on weekends are available.

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