Bloomington, IL- Illinois Senator Dick Durbin, citing a fatal January truck accident that killed one man and seriously injured a police officer, has requested an audit of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s investigative practices.
In a letter sent to Department of Transportation Inspector General Calvin L. Scovell III, Sen. Durbin requested an audit of the FMCSA after the Chicago Tribune discovered the agency ordered an investigation of DND International in August of last year but did not launch the investigation until after the fatal accident occurred.
On January 28th, Renato Velasquez, who drove for DND International, ran over an Illinois Tollway worker and state patrol vehicle with a trooper inside just right before 10 p.m. in Naperville. Velasquez’s truck slammed into state Tollway worker Vincent Petrella and State Trooper Douglas Balder after they had stopped to assist another trucker, whose vehicle was stalled in the right lane.
Petrella was killed instantly, and Trooper Balder was seriously injured. Balder suffered burns to 15 percent of his body, bleeding on the brain and a few broken ribs. Petrella’s widow filed a wrongful death suit against Velasquez and DND International. Tropper Balder is also suing for his personal injuries.
It was later revealed that Valesquez also admitted to troopers following the collision that he only had 3.5 hours asleep between his two driving shifts—federal regulations forbid truckers from driving more than 11 hours in a 24-hour period.
The FMCSA said DND International was an imminent hazard stating it was ranked among the 12 percent worst trucking companies in its class in safety categories such as hours-of-service compliance and unsafe driving. Regulators said DND International failed to ensure drivers were complying with federal regulations and drivers routinely falsified log books. They were ordered to cease operations earlier this month but Sen. Durbin believes the FMCSA failed in its oversight of the company.
“Earlier intervention and follow-through by FMCSA could have avoided this tragedy and we need a hard look into whether FMCSA is taking the proper steps to keep these accidents waiting to happen off the road,” Durbin wrote to Calvin L. Scovel III, according to Tribune.
He added, “FMCSA should not wait until a crash occurs before following through on investigations they order.”
Sen. Durbin is not the only one to take issue with the FMCSA’s investigative practices. Last November, the National Transportation Safety Board recommended to Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx that the agency be audited for its oversight capabilities after a General Accountability Office survey found flaws in the methods the FMCSA used to order an investigation into unsafe trucking companies.
While some trucking companies and drivers view federal regulations as pesky or troublesome, those regulations exist to protect the safety of all motorists including truck drivers. Violating these rules puts people at risk of being involved in a serious truck accident. When a person is injured or killed by a negligent truck company or driver, a truck accident attorney located in Bloomington will help the victims seek compensation for their medical costs and their pain and suffering.