Hundreds of people each day pull off to the side of Illinois roads and highways for reasons ranging from checking a GPS for directions to suffering complete motor vehicle failure. Because most of these drivers eventually go on their way without incident, it is easy to forget that sitting on the side of the road can expose yourself to danger.
That’s what happened to a Forsyth truck driver early Friday morning in Macon County. The 50-year old man had struck a deer with his tractor-trailer, which forced him to the shoulder of Interstate 72. So he notified a tow truck to assist him with his disabled rig. About 3:45am, a double-trailer semi truck was traveling on the same side of I-72 when its driver fell asleep at the wheel. That tractor-trailer left the road and sideswiped the parked semi while the Forsyth trucker was standing in front of his vehicle as the tow-truck was preparing to load his semi for transport. The 50-year old victim reportedly died instantly.
Since the fatal accident was caused by the 64-year old truck driver falling asleep at the wheel, it appears that family members of the Forsyth man have solid grounds for a wrongful death lawsuit against the operator of the double-trailer truck. Federal laws dictate how many consecutive hours that truck drivers can be behind the wheel without rest. So the subsequent investigation will probe whether or not the at-fault driver violated those laws. In addition, the company that employs the sleepy trucker may also be held liable for the deadly crash as well.
Certainly, if you ever have to pull off the road (especially at night), you should take precautions to keep yourself safe (such as turning on your vehicle’s hazard lights, staying away from the roadway itself, etc.). But as this accident illustrates, sometimes you can observe every possible safety measure and still become the victim of a fatal accident.