Allentown, PA- Authorities have charged the truck driver responsible for a January 13 fatal accident at Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission toll plaza on Interstate 78 in Williams Township.
Authorities have charged an Allentown man with involuntary manslaughter, reckless endangerment, careless driver and a number of other traffic violations after admitting to prosecutors that he fell asleep at the wheel.
According to court documents, 30 minutes before the accident, the 55 year-old truck driver was fatigued which he tried to combat by opening the window and turning up the radio, Lehigh Valley Live reported.
The driver’s efforts were in vain; as he approached the toll plaza just after 8 a.m. at a high rate of speed, he slammed into a barrier on the left of the plaza. His truck went airborne and landed on top of a passenger vehicle, which then, along with the tractor trailer, burst into flames.
Daniel C. Murphy, 65, of New Jersey was pronounced dead at the scene. His death was caused by smoke inhalation and thermal injuries and was ruled and accident, Lehigh Valley Live reported.
Police said the accident also jeopardized the life of a toll booth employee, but they were not injured and neither was the truck driver.
Witnesses said they saw the truck driver swerving prior to the accident.
Prosecutors argued the driver should have noticed the warning signs of fatigue. Unfortunately, because this particular driver did pull over and get the rest he needed, a man is dead and he is facing serious criminal charges.
While truck operators tend to be better drivers than passenger vehicle motorists, they are not immune to engaging in driving behaviors that put others at risk; fatigued driving being one of those risky behaviors. Fatigue is one of the primary driver errors that can lead to a truck accident.
Truck drivers are under a great deal of pressure to meet deadlines, but they shouldn’t be putting theirs or other lives at risk to meet these deadlines. Fatigued driving is seen serious issue for the trucking industry and should be avoided; nobody’s life, including a trucker’s, should be put at risk for the sake of money.
In the effort to try the combat this problem, new hours-of- service regulations were enacted last summer. Drivers are no longer allowed to drive more than 11 hours a day and are required to take periodic breaks to rest. Drivers, who ignore the hours-of-service rules, or trucking companies that pressure operators to drive when they are fatigued can be considered negligent and could face a personal injury or wrongful death suit.
Victims of fatigued truck driving accidents or their surviving relatives have the right to pursue a negligent driver for their medical expenses and pain. This requires the victims retain an accomplished truck accident attorney who understands how to conduct a thorough investigation and successfully negotiate for a favorable injury settlement. Having the representation of a truck accident attorney will assure the victim is justly compensated for their suffering.