Doug / 09-29-2010 / Auto Accidents

NTSB Sites Driver Fatigued in 2009 Tractor-Trailor Accident

The June 2009 truck accident involving one semi-tractor trailer and five other vehicles has been reviewed by the National Traffic Safety Board (NTSB) and the results of their year-long study were revealed yesterday.  It was determined that the driver had extreme fatigue resulting from “acute sleep loss, circadian disruption associated with his shift work schedule and mild sleep apnea.”

Teh report stated the semi driver failed to react to a minor accident that had caused a back up on Interstate 44 in Miami, OK.  His multi-ton tractor-trailer going 69 mph then struck an SUV, the last vehicle at the back of the line of stopped cars.  The semi went up over several other vehicles and landed about 270 feet from where he struck the SUV.  Ten passengers in the vehicles struck from behind were killed, 5 received injuries ranging from minor to serious, and the driver of the semi was seriously injured.

As a result of the investigation, the NTSB has identified several driver fatigue safety issues involving tractor-trailer drivers that need to be addressed:

the need for updated and comprehensive fatigue education materials and fatigue management programs; significance of heavy vehicle collision forces in crashes with smaller vehicles; lack of federal requirements for data and vehicle event recorders on commercial vehicles; and lack of federal requirements for forward collision warning systems.

Unfortunately the NTSB has no authority to make rules or set safety standards.  It is up to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSB) to set the safety standards for commercial vehicles.  This safety report issued 9 new recommendations, but they had made 6 of the recommendations in previous reports but they have not been acted upon.

When you are talking about a 10,000 pound vehicle travelling in excess of 65 miles per hour, it seems to me that NHTSA should be reacting more quickly to all safety recommendations from the NTSB.  Afterall, the safety of us travelling the highways along side these big rigs is at stake.

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