Two people died in a tractor trailer crash on Feb. 6 after the tractor trailer they were riding in ran off of I-95 northbound at the I-295 interchange in Henrico County, Virginia.
The Virginia State Police reported that at 1:15 am, the big rig slammed into an overpass pillar and caught fire. The driver and passenger were declared dead at the scene of the crash. Their names had not been released at press time.
The police suspect that the driver may have fallen asleep at the wheel.
Every year, approximately 3,000 people are killed in truck crashes across the United States, and many of them are related to driver fatigue. It has long been known that truck drivers often drive on less sleep than they should; a study was conducted by the Department of Health and Human Services back in 1997 that focused on 20 male truck drivers.
The study found that the truckers averaged only 4.78 hours of electrophysiologically verified sleep per day while they were working. This broke down to 3.83 hours of sleep for truckers on a 13 hour night schedule, and 5.38 hours of sleep for truckers on a 10 hour schedule.
The study concluded that these 20 long haul truck drivers got less sleep than was needed to stay alert on the job. It also found that the greatest chance of falling asleep at the wheel was late at night or in the early morning.
The Virginia CDL manual also emphasizes that truckers should always make sure they get plenty of sleep when they are not driving. They also should never exceed their federally allowed number of driving hours in a week.
Still, far too many truck crashes occur due to driver fatigue. Our Virginia truck accident attorneys have handled cases before involving driver fatigue and serious personal injuries. One truck crash case in Virginia Beach occurred when the truck driver apparently fell asleep while driving and failed to stop at a stop sign.
His truck slammed into our clients’ car at 40 MPH. Witnesses at the truck accident scene said that the driver did not slow down at all. Sadly, the couple’s two young children were in the rear seat. Both of them suffered traumatic brain damage when the front seats of the car collapsed backwards into the girls’ heads.
One of the girls suffered a concussion, but the other girl suffered much more serious injuries. A CT scan showed she had swelling, bruising and bleeding in the brain. She was able to make a relatively good recovery, but she still had permanent brain injuries. The case settled for $5.5 million with a structured annuity that would pay out $21 million over many years.
In the above case, it is unclear whether the passenger has a claim against the driver for negligence. Typically, a passenger is free of fault when a driver negligently causes injuries or even a death, and particularly where the passenger, in this particular case, may not have even been in the cab with the driver but could’ve been in the sleeping berth for example. Some of this information may be gleaned from the accident report by the state police.
Our truck accident attorneys in Virginia and North Carolina want to stress that a truck driver failing to get enough sleep can lead to terrible injuries and death, and very expensive lawsuits and jail time in some cases.