Chicago, IL- Illinois State Police announced a safety crackdown on commercial drivers statewide in honor of a Chicago officer who was killed last year

Trooper James Sauter, 29, was killed March 28, 2013 when his patrol car was rear-ended by a tractor-trailer on a suburban Chicago interstate. According to WSIL-TV, Sauter was in his patrol car on the shoulder of Interstate 294 when the semi struck him from behind, pushing his car up to 500 feet before it burst into flames

The truck driver who struck Trooper Sauter was charged with violating federal regulations aimed at curtailing fatigued driving.

Operation Sauter will kick off with ISP officers saturating the interstates statewide, conducting road side safety checks to enforce the ISP’s Fatal Four mission:  Speeding, Seatbelts, DUI and Distracted Driving, to ensure the safety of the motoring public in preparation for the busy spring travel season,” Illinois State Police Division of Operations Colonel Michael Zerbonia said in a press release

Operation Sauter begins Friday and will continue over a 24-hour period with an emphasis on making sure commercial drivers are operating safely.

Recently, another Illinois law enforcement officer was seriously injured by a fatigued truck driver on Illinois Tollway in DuPage County. Trooper Douglas Balder and Tollway worker Vincent Petrella had stopped to assist another trucker, whose vehicle was stalled in the right lane.

As Balder and Petrella were sitting in their vehicles they were struck by a passing tractor-trailer driven by Renato Velasquez, who later admitted to police he had been driving for over 12 hours on February 28th with only 3 ½ hours of sleep between two driving shifts.

Velasquez was charged with driving a commercial vehicle while impaired and fatigued, driving beyond the maximum number of hours and four counts of falsifying his driver log books. Earlier this month he pleaded not guilty to the charges.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration estimates that 18 percent of fatal truck accidents are caused by driver fatigue.  Drivers who nod off or fall asleep at the wheel can lose control of their vehicle, especially if they are traveling at a high rate of speed. And though dangerous for any driver, fatigued driving is especially hazardous for truck drivers when since they are in control of such a large and heavy vehicle.

In response to the statistics and the dangers posed by fatigue drivers, federal hours-of-service regulations. Beginning July 1st of 2013, a truck driver is forbidden from driving more than 11 hours at a time without taking a 10 hour break in between driving shifts. Truckers are allowed to clock 14 hours of work each day but only 11 can be spent driving. Truck drivers are allowed to work 60 to 77 hours in seven-day period or 70 to 88 hours in an eight-day period. If a driver takes two and a half days off, they can start their working week with zero hours.

If you have been injured by a fatigued truck driver, a Chicago truck accident attorney can help you file a personal injury or wrongful death claim so you can get the compensation you need.