It’s been almost a year since a trucker from Florida fell asleep at the wheel of his rig in West Knoxville, slamming into a police cruiser that then burst into flames, critically injuring the sergeant inside.
Now, our Knoxville truck accident lawyers understand that truck driver has been indicted by a grand jury on criminal charges of aggravated assault, reckless driving, reckless endangerment and failure to drive within a single lane of traffic.
The 57-year-old truck driver admitted to emergency responders that he had been so tired just before the wreck, he had been splashing his face with cold water to stay awake. He had been hired by the Orlando-based trucking agency just two weeks before.
Alcohol is not believed to have been a factor in the crash.
Immediately after the wreck, the truck driver ran to the aid of the officer, helping to pull him from the cruiser, with the help of paramedics who happened upon the scene on their way back from transporting a different patient to the hospital. Paramedics also suffered burns as a result.
The trooper inside the burning vehicle, meanwhile, nearly died. He had his emergency lights flashing and was parked on the shoulder of the highway when the crash happened. Although it was touch-and-go for some time, he was later transferred to a rehabilitation facility, where he underwent months and months of intensive physical therapy. He has since returned home, but he has not been able to go back to work.
The truck driver is reportedly working to negotiate some sort of plea deal, though the details of what that might look like aren’t yet clear. The driver is said to be devastated by the crash and wracked with guilt over the injuries suffered by the trooper.
No doubt, most people who are involved in fatal or near-fatal accidents don’t set out that day to do so. But truckers who fail to adhere to hours of service restrictions or continue to drive when it’s obvious even to them that they are too tired to do so must be held accountable. In cases where the company’s scheduling prohibits adherence to federal hours of service operations, they too need to be held accountable.
According to the the AAA Foundation, it’s not just truck drivers, either. While nearly all drivers surveyed in 2012 reported that driving drowsy was a risk to their safety and was unacceptable, almost a third admitted to being so tired behind the wheel within the last month that they could barely keep their eyes open.
It’s estimated that about 17 percent of all fatal crashes involve drivers who were sleepy.
Every single driver has a responsibility to ensure he or she is alert and oriented to the road ahead. If you need to pull over and take a nap, do so. Here are some key warning signs that you need to stop driving:
- Your eyelids are getting heavy or you have difficulty keeping your eyes open and focused;
- You are having trouble keeping your head up;
- You find yourself rubbing your eyes or yawning;
- You are missing traffic signs or signals or driving past your exit;
- You can’t remember the last few miles you drove;
- You have drifted from your lane or hit the rumble strips.
If you are involved in a Knoxville truck accident, contact the Hartsoe Law Firm, P.C. at (865) 524-5657.
Trucker indicted in fiery crash that nearly killed THP sergeant, Feb. 27, 2013, By Jamie Satterfield, KnoxNews.com
More Blog Entries:
Tennessee Traffic Deaths Spiked in 2012, Feb. 28, 2013, Knoxville Truck Accident Lawyer Blog