Phoenix, AZ- The truck driver responsible for a fatal crash in Phoenix early Wednesday morning never hit the brakes and later told police he fell asleep at the wheel prior to the crash.

The driver, 54 year-old Brian Knoll, is facing serious charges including second-degree murder and vehicular assault and endangerment, Arizona reported.

The accident occurred just before 7:00 a.m. Wednesday morning in the northbound lanes of I-7. Knoll was driving a flat-bed truck carrying several pavers when veered across three lanes of traffic and rear-ended four vehicles that had slowed for traffic. Knoll didn’t apply his brakes prior to the crash.

The first car that was struck burst into flames. The driver was freed from the wreckage and flown to a local hospital where he later died. He was later identified as Paul Troupe, 22, of Omaha.

A passenger in the first car, Sarah Troupe, suffered serious injuries and is listed in critical condition.

After the collision, the flat-bed tractor-trailer overturned, blocking lanes of travel and spilling paver bricks in the southbound lanes of the I-17. Several lanes of the interstate where close until 2 p.m. as crews cleaned up the wreckage.

The driver was given sobriety tests at the scene which he performed poorly on. According to reports, the driver was unsteady on his feet, had blood shot eyes and slurred speech. He was unable to complete simple task and didn’t follow officer instructions.

Knoll was arrested on the scene and taken to police to determine if he was intoxicated at the time of the crash.

During the course of the investigation, Knoll admitted to taking a sleeping called Soma Tuesday night and has no recollection of the crash. He admitted to being asleep when the collision occurred.

In a recent AAA study, researchers found that fatigued or drowsy driving is a growing problem in the U.S and is the cause of one in five fatal accidents.

“In-depth studies of the prevalence of driver drowsiness in motor vehicle crashes have consistently found drowsy driving to be involved a much greater proportion of crashes than reported by the NHTSA (2011) and generally agree well with the results of the current study,” the study says.

Federal trucking regulations mandating the number of hours and truck drivers in allowed behind the wheel are supposed to prevent fatigued truck accidents. Those regulations wouldn’t have prevented this accident since sleeping pills appear to be the culprit, but they can prevent other tragedies.

Risky driving habits on behalf of truck drivers and other motorist lead to thousands of unnecessary deaths and injuries every year in the U.S. Because semis and other large commercial trucks are so large and heavy, an accident involving these vehicle is twice as likely to be deadly.

The overwhelming majority of truck drivers are responsible and take precautions to keep themselves and other motorists safe from harm. But, sadly, there are bad actors out there and when they hurt or kill another due to their negligence, a truck accident attorney will make certain they are accountable for the harm they inflict.