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Police: Truck driver fell asleep before fatal accident

In late August, we discussed the court battle over federal driver fatigue regulations in the trucking industry. Federal officials instituted new rules in 2011 aimed at reducing the risk of drowsy driving in the trucking industry and a federal appellate court upheld the majority of the rules earlier this year.

Fatigued driving is not necessarily confined to the trucking industry. In fact drowsy driving can be a serious problem on any Missouri road. A sleepy driver can be dangerous, as a recent story making national headlines highlights. Authorities in a mountain state responded to the scene of a fatal truck and pedestrian accident Wednesday afternoon along U.S. 40.

Emergency personnel found a 48-year-old man from the West Coast who had been struck by a truck. Officials believe that the fatal accident victim had been walking along the shoulder of the highway in a nationwide trek. He was hoping to raise awareness about school bullying after his son committed suicide in February. The child had been bullied over his sexual orientation before the suicide.

During the father’s awareness trek, the man met up with a tragic set of circumstances. Police believe that the man was walking eastbound along the shoulder when a truck swerved and delivered the fatal blow. Authorities believe that the truck driver fell asleep at the wheel before the fatal truck and pedestrian accident, which was reported around 5:30 in the afternoon on Wednesday. The trucker was cited for careless driving. An investigation continues.

Motor vehicle crashes may often involve complex and competing factors related to causation. Most motor vehicle wrecks involve two or more vehicles. But, when an accident involves a motor vehicle and a pedestrian, the risk of serious injury or death for the pedestrian may be apparent to most Columbia, Missouri, residents.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration says that its research from 2007 indicates that fatigued driving, alcohol and speeding are all frequently contributing factors in motor vehicle crashes. Drunk driving and other traffic laws have been on the radar for many years. But, highway safety officials continue to look for better ways to control fatigued driving as a source of potentially fatal accidents.

Source: USA Today, “Truck kills man on trek to call attention to gay bullying," Kerry Leary, KUSA-TV, Oct. 11, 2013

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