Fatigue Factor Strikes Again, Another Truck Driver Chargedby Jana Ritter - Published: 6/22/2015
A truck driver faces multiple charges after causing a chain reaction crash involving 12 vehicles around 4 a.m., Friday morning. Mark Tipton of Crossville, Tenn., had been driving a 2016 Freightliner in the northbound lanes of I-55, just south of First Avenue in Forest View, when he failed to slow down in a construction zone and caused the 12-car pile-up, which sent at least five people to hospital and injured nine others. According to the police report, Tipton told the responding officers that he had fallen asleep while driving and did not make any attempt to stop.
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Fortunately, Tipton came out of the incident relatively unharmed and had declined medical treatment at the scene. But the bad news for the truck driver came when he was arrested at the scene and charged with six violations that include driving while fatigued (which is a Class 4 felony), driving for more than 14 consecutive hours, false report of duty status, brake out of adjustment, automatic slack adjusters required and failure to reduce speed to avoid a crash. According to the prosecutors, “Tipton picked up a load and realized he might not make his destination, so he "kept his foot down.”
The details of Tipton’s employment situation and delivery details have yet to be released but the prosecutors may be blaming the truck driver for acting in a negligent manner when its often the companies pressuring their drivers to push their hours and to even falsify logs. In fact, since NBC’s highly publicized investigation of "truck drivers forced to falsify logs", more and more truck drivers have come forward with similar stories.
The family of a Montgomery police officer killed by a fatigued truck driver last April has certainly recognized the fatigued driving factor in the wrongful death lawsuit they recently filed. The lawsuit names both the trucking company TUI Express Inc. and truck driver Yasin Steven-Conley James as defendants, and alleges that both parties were responsible for Officer David Lee Colley's death:
"The truck driver was cited for numerous violations of Federal Motor Carrier Safety Act regulations. Those violations included responsibilities he has as a driver on the road and those his trucking company has to maintain a safe vehicle. His logbooks revealed that he was attempting to conceal his duty status and hours of service. The hours-of-service rules are in place to prevent fatigued driving. A fatigued truck driver is not as capable of reacting to the environment around him, especially emergency situations like the one we have in this case. Fatigued driving is a big problem and results in thousands of crashes each year. Mr. James was faced with a police officer who was responding to an emergency call. The accident could have been avoided with an alert and oriented truck driver appropriately responding to his environment. Unfortunately, he did not," said the lawsuit filed by the Beasley Allen Law Firm.