On March 29, 2010, Oklahoma senators introduced legislation to improve traffic safety on Oklahoma highways by decreasing the maximum speed allowed by semi truckers to 65 mph. Currently, operators of big rigs are allowed to drive the up to the maximum posted speeds of 75 mph.
The impetus to tackle unsafe driving practices of truckers was a catastrophic multiple car accident that occurred on June 26, 2009. Truck driver, Donald Creed, 76, failed to brake in time when traffic was slowing on Will Rogers Turnpike causing a several car pileup that resulted in the deaths of 10 people. Donald Creed has been charged with 10 counts of negligent homicide for each of the victims of this tragic semi truck accident.
Sleep Apnea Prevalent Among Truckers
It is important to understand that speed wasn’t the only contributing factor in this horrific truck accident that resulted in multiple fatalities. Donald Creed had been driving for ten consecutive hours. He had not taken any breaks long enough to yield sleep or rest time. As experienced Utah personal injury attorneys, we have witnessed firsthand how drowsy driving is a severely under-investigated problem with truckers.
In fact, driver fatigue and drowsy driving is a major cause of semi truck accidents that injure and kill thousands of motorists, motorcyclists, bicyclists and pedestrians each year. According to a study authored by Dr. Stefanos Kales, Medical Director of the Employee and Industrial Medicine at Cambridge Health Alliance, truck drivers with sleep apnea are much more likely to fall asleep at the wheel and the condition is increasing as Americans become more obese. The study confirmed that commercial truck drivers have a high chance of having obstructive sleep apnea syndrome characterized by excessive daytime sleepiness and sleep attacks. The following statistics are quite sobering:
• Sleep Apnea increases the risk of a motor accident by nearly 7-fold
• 2.4-3.9 million licensed commercial drivers in the U.S. have sleep apnea
How Do We Let This Happen?
It is standard practice nationwide that truckers are paid based on the expected miles travelled in a specific amount of time. Trucker drivers are then rewarded for accruing additional miles in a shortened amount of time. Consequently, under the currently system, semi truck drivers are rewarded to sleep less, speed more and travel increased distances. Consider this a call to action to improve the traffic Safety on our Utah roads by urging Utah legislative representatives to implement laws that mandate trucking companies to curb driving hours down to a safe amount that is both healthier for the driver and safer for our Utah residents.
If you or a loved one has been injured or killed as the result of a Utah trucking accident, the skilled Utah Truck accident attorneys of the Christensen Law Firm can help you. Trucking accidents are unique because the parties involved are usually from out of state and their insurance companies are usually large national firms. Attorney Ken Christensen is the leading truck accident attorney in Utah as he has experience working with several major trucking firms. You can contact us at (801) 506-0800 to set up a FREE no obligation consultation with Mr. Christensen.