Posts Tagged ‘fatigue’

$62.7 Million Settlement in Fatal Truck Accident

October 20, 2010

Hopefully this will serve as a serious wake up call for every company with a fleet of vehicles.  Yes, education is important, but it is only as good as the people hearing it want it to be; yes, a video showing exactly happened is important so we can learn from it; but let’s be completely honest about what is MOST important here . . . Preventing this type of situation from ever happening and Cleared2Drive is the only technology available that can do that!

A $62.7-million settlement was reached in a civil court suit brought by the relatives of eight victims of a horrendous crash in Oklahoma caused by Donald Creed a 76 year old driver for Associated Wholesale Grocers (AWG).   In all, 10 persons were killed and five more injured by the accident.

Creed, who pleaded guilty to 10 counts of negligent homicide, a misdemeanor in Oklahoma, in a plea deal, was sentenced to a year of probation on each count. He must serve 30 days in a county jail and wear an electronic monitoring device in his first year of probation. He is also barred from obtaining a commercial driver’s license.

AWG is a retailer-owned grocery cooperative based in Kansas City, KS, that serves 1,900 members. AWG’s attorney Jim Secrest said the company was facing an additional claim of independent negligence for allowing Creed on the road. The company was prepared to fight that claim, he said, adding that AWG had “state-of-the-art” equipment in the truck and that witnesses who had seen Creed throughout his shift would have testified that Creed appeared “normal” that day.

“To this moment, we know what happened, but we don’t know why,” Secrest said. “This guy [Creed] had five-million miles without one personal injury accident.” Secrest said that AWG’s fatigue management program was not as strong as it could have been. The company has improved the program since the accident, he said.  “It was not as intense as it should have been and I think AWG acknowledged that,” Secrest said.

According to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), the cause of the crash was the result of Creed’s fatigue due to acute sleep loss, mild sleep apnea and circadian disruption associated with his shift schedule.

Creed had just returned from a vacation and was still adjusting to the shift, which began shortly after 3 a.m., NTSB said. The Board said that Creed never reacted to the backup of traffic due to an earlier accident along Interstate 44 near Miami, OK. Creed drove his truck, traveling at 69 mph in a 75-mph zone, into the back of a stopped sport utility vehicle. The truck continued forward and hit three additional vehicles, pushing the third vehicle into the rear of a livestock trailer being towed by a pickup truck. That vehicle then collided with yet another vehicle.

The accident occurred at 1:19 p.m., roughly 10 hours after Creed had started his shift. NTSB said that Creed failed to apply brakes or take any evasive measures before the collision.

“This crash points out the need for three important actions by federal regulators that would go a long way to reducing this type of accident on our roadways: a fatigue management system would have helped the driver get the rest he needed to perform well behind the wheel, event recorders would have provided our investigators with the details about the crash once it occurred, and a collision warning system would have significantly reduced the likelihood that this accident could have ever happened,” said NTSB chairman Deborah A.P. Hersman. “The time to act on all three of these safety fundamentals is now so that this kind of horrific tragedy will not occur again.”

NTSB also has called upon FMCSA to require all heavy commercial vehicles to be equipped with video event recorders, to improve its fatigue educational materials and to require all motor carriers to adopt a fatigue management program based on the North American Fatigue Management Program.

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