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Federal regulators strongly condemn driver in Illinois truck crash

The fatal truck accident that recently occurred on Interstate 88 near Aurora has been a topic of much discussion – and not just on this blog. Although fatal truck accidents are sadly common, this case seems to be an especially strong example of what can go wrong when commercial truck drivers ignore hours-of-service rules and continue to drive well past the point of fatigue.

Even federal agencies are now weighing in on the truck accident that severely injured an Illinois state trooper and killed a Tollway worker. The U.S. Department of Transportation has called the truck driver an “imminent hazard to public safety.” Moreover, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has banned the trucker from operating any commercial vehicle for purposes of interstate commerce.

The fact that this truck driver has received such strong and swift condemnation from DOT and FMCSA officials is telling. The hours-of-service rules that limit driving time for truckers have been largely opposed by the trucking industry. Because of this controversy, the FMCSA has traditionally tried to appear diplomatic when making public comments about hours-of-service rules.

In the wake of a fatal truck accident like this one, however, there is not much to be gained from subtlety and neutrality. The at-fault truck driver allegedly falsified his driving log books and continued to drive not just beyond the limits imposed by the HOS rules but far beyond the limits dictated common sense. Prior to the crash, he had been driving for as much as 36 consecutive hours after getting only a few hours of sleep.

The response to the crash has made clear that such reckless behavior will not be tolerated by regulators. Commenting on the fatal truck accident, FMCSA Administrator Anne Ferro had this to say: "Commercial drivers that knowingly jeopardize innocent lives by violating safety standards and attempt to cover up their illegal behavior should have no doubt that we will vigorously enforce all federal safety regulations to the fullest extent possible by law."

Source: CSN Chicago, "I-88 Fatal Crash Trucker Named 'Hazard to Public Safety'," Feb 11. 2014

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