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Asleep at the Wheel: Drowsy Truckers and the Dangers They Pose to Drivers and Passengers on Illinois’ Roads

A pair of Illinois truck crashes that made the news recently both have one thing in common, and it’s an issue that comes up far too often: truckers falling asleep at the wheel. When a commercial truck driver falls asleep while driving, he/she places a multi-ton vehicle out of control and puts the lives of everyone on the road in jeopardy. Tragically, many of these crashes end with at least one fatality. If you or a loved one have been affected by a crash that was the result of a drowsy, fatigued or sleeping trucker, you should waste no time in reaching out to an experienced Chicago truck accident attorney about your legal options.

The more recent crash occurred in Fayette County in southern Illinois. Two men in a commercial truck were traveling south on a rural state highway when the driver fell asleep. The driver awakened, realized his problem, and overcorrected. That ended with the truck crashed into a ditch. The passenger in the commercial truck was dead by the time emergency help arrived, according to the Belleville News Daily.

Back in March 2019, a trucker on Route 20 in Stephenson County fell asleep at the wheel. Around the same time, a State Trooper had another truck stopped for inspection along the same stretch of road. The sleeping trucker’s rig crashed into the trooper’s vehicle and the truck she was inspecting, fatally wounding the trooper. The sleeping trucker pled guilty in late November 2020 to two criminal charges, one of which was “safety regulations violations,” according to cdllife.com.

Truckers are under heavy pressure every day they’re behind the wheel. They’re pushed by supervisors, by clients and by themselves. As a result, too many push themselves too far, including driving after they’ve become exhausted. Federal regulatory authorities have erected limits on the amount of time that a commercial truck driver can drive without taking breaks of specified duration, but many truckers keep on driving even after they’ve passed their “hours of service” limits. This behavior often results in crashes that include serious or fatal injuries.

The evidence that can make your case or make it more successful

If you’ve been hurt (or a loved one killed) in an accident like this, getting the right legal team on your side is imperative. Achieving the full success you need may be possible, but not if you don’t have all of the evidence you need. Critical pieces of evidence in a case like this may involve several things. For one thing, your legal team can take the necessary steps to gain access to the trucker’s logbooks, which will show how much time he/she allegedly drove. If the logbook reflects that the truck driver exceeded the federal “hours of service” regulations, that could be a major asset to your case.

Additionally, most commercial trucks have “black box” recorders like those contained inside aircraft. These electronic control modules or event data recorders may hold key evidence in your case. That black box may contain proof that the trucker who crashed into you hit the brakes very belatedly (or not at all,) which may indicate he/she was drowsy or asleep. Erratic accelerations or decelerations or use of cruise control in inappropriate locations (like in the approach to a congested construction zone) may also strengthen your proof that the driver was sleepy or asleep at the time of your crash.

Furthermore, skilled legal counsel can get the proof necessary to pursue all of those responsible. Even if the trucker who hit you was an independent driver, you might be able to obtain proof that allows you to sue the trucker’s client in addition to the truck driver. If, for example, you can unearth proof that the client encouraged or demanded that the trucker drive in excess of the federal “hours of service” limits, then you may have a stronger claim for holding the client liable.

If you or a loved one has been hurt in a commercial truck accident, you need an experienced legal advocate who knows how to prove your case and get you the full damages award or settlement you deserve. Count on the knowledgeable Chicago truck accident attorneys at Katz, Friedman, Eisenstein, Johnson, Bareck & Bertuca to be that kind of skilled advocate for you and your family. Our team handles truck cases, not just here in greater Chicago but also locations including Rockford, Effingham, Bloomington/Normal, Champaign/Urbana, and Peoria. To set up a free case evaluation, contact us at 800-444-1525 or through our website.

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