If the tractor-trailer was going to overturn anywhere, perhaps it’s best that it occurred in a desolate parking lot early in the morning. However, the accident did injure the driver, who reportedly fell asleep behind the wheel, and came perilously close to injuring two people asleep inside a motor home parked at the edge of the lot.
According to state police, the crash happened at a northbound service plaza in Kennebunk, just off the Maine Turnpike. The large truck, which was hauling tons of crushed glass, allegedly spun out-of-control in the lot shortly after 7:30 a.m. The vehicle struck a sign, slammed into two light posts and then overturned on its side. Broken glass was strewn everywhere, as the box trailer was split wide open.
The wreckage came within inches of a motor home that was parked. The two occupants were not hurt, but they were extremely lucky. The vehicle that was being towed by the motor home did sustain minor damage, but the pair was able to drive away later that morning with no issue.
At this point, investigators are not divulging whether there is evidence the driver may have violated federal Hours of Service regulations. However, our Bangor truck accident lawyers are well aware of the fact that fatigued truckers are a major problem on Maine roadways.
After all, it was in Maine that the Parents Against Tired Truckers started in 1994 as a grassroots campaign to improve large truck safety after four teens were killed when a big rig driver fell asleep behind the wheel – and didn’t get so much as a traffic ticket for his actions.
Since then, the laws concerning Hours of Service operations have improved significantly.
As of right now, the Federal Motor Safety Carrier Administration is enforcing an 11-hour driving limit for drivers of property-hauling large vehicles, assuming the driver has had 10 consecutive hours off-duty. A driver who has had only 8 consecutive hours off-duty has a 10-hour driving limit. Rest breaks are required every eight hours and last for at least 30 minutes.
Additional protections, such as the 60/70-hour limit, have been suspended under pressure from the trucking lobby to Congress. That rule in particular prohibited a driver from operating a rig after more than 60/70 hours on duty in 7/8 consecutive days.
Large trucking accidents continue to be a concern. In fact, since 2009, truck-related deaths have increased by 17 percent and truck-related injuries have increased by 28 percent.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there were nearly 4,000 people killed and another 95,000 injured in the U.S. in large truck crashes in 2013. Of those killed, more than 70 percent were occupants of other vehicles and 11 percent were non-occupants (i.e., pedestrians, bicyclists, etc.).
Truck industry lobbyists say reducing restrictions on truck drivers actually make roads safer because it means there are ultimately fewer trucks on the road. However, our Bangor personal injury lawyers know nobody is truly safer if truckers on the roads haven’t had enough rest. Ample research has shown that driving while sleep-deprived is as bad or worse than driving drunk. Doing so while in control of an 80,000-pound vehicle can have horrific and tragic consequences.
The trucker who reportedly fell asleep at the service lot in Kennebunk is extremely fortunate the incident did not occur while he was on the highway, or the outcome could have been much worse. Perhaps this will be the wake-up call he needs.
If you are the victim of a Bangor traffic accident, contact Peter Thompson & Associates at 1-800-804-2004 for a confidential consultation to discuss your rights.
Police: Driver of overturned tractor-trailer fell asleep at the wheel, Nov. 2, 2015, By York County Coast staff, Special to Bangor Daily News
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Hill-Spotswood v. Mayhew et al. – Injured Worker Seeks State Liability for Attack by Patient, Oct. 30, 2015, Bangor Truck Accident Attorney Blog