Pair of NC truck crashes in 2 days focuses attention on driver fatigue


RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — A pair of serious truck crashes in last two days is focusing attention on driver fatigue.

A truck carrying chickens was ripped apart in a crash on I-95 southbound (Viewer photo)

Drivers who CBS North Carolina spoke with say fatigue is a big issue.

Some companies have ways to actually stop a truck if the driver is getting too tired to be on the road safely.

Kevin Woodard, a long-haul trucker, said he sees some drivers who may be fatigued.

“A lot of guys try to run long to get their holiday time,” said Woodard. “They’re on the road and push a little too hard just to be off (the clock) or to make money.”

On Monday, the North Carolina State Highway Patrol said driver fatigue caused a wreck on I-85 when a truck loaded with bananas crashed.

Also, troopers said they are looking at possibility of driver fatigue in Tuesday morning’s crash on I-95 near Smithfield when a tractor-trailer carrying chicken crashed.

One driver said there’s a simple way to avoid fatigue.

“If I’m tired I’ll call dispatch and take a nap,” said Alan Amerson, a truck driver. “A load ain’t worth someone’s life or my life.”

For years drivers relied on paper logs to keep track of their hours on the road. Now, electronics do that and can even stop a truck whose driver shouldn’t be behind the wheel.

“Most trucks now have data recorders that keep up with you and shut us down,” said truck driver John Huggins, who added that some trucks can be shut down via satellite.

But no electronic system can make sure a driver is ready to be behind the wheel in the first place.

“If you aren’t getting your rest before you get on the road, you go out there fatigued and then you have a lot of problems,” Huggins said.

A U.S. Department of Transportation study showed  41 percent of serious tractor-trailer crashes in the country were caused by fatigued truck drivers.

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