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Driver in deadly truck accident may have fallen asleep

An investigation into a fiery truck crash that killed an Illinois trooper earlier this year has found that the truck driver may have fallen asleep behind the wheel. The 25-year-old truck driver was traveling south on Interstate 294 one night when he veered left and hit a squad car that was parked on the left shoulder of the road. A 28-year-old trooper inside the squad car was pronounced dead at the scene. According to a preliminary truck accident investigation report, the driver told police that he fell asleep.

Drowsy driving is a significant problem on U.S. roads. A conservative estimate is that drowsy driving or falling asleep behind the wheel results in an estimated 1,550 deaths and 71,000 injuries every year. Truck drivers are considered especially at risk for drowsy driving. According to the National Sleep Foundation, at least 15 percent of all heavy truck accidents may involve fatigue.

Although drowsy driving is common, it may be challenging to hold drowsy drivers accountable when they fall asleep. Unlike drunk driving, there aren't tests that can determine whether a driver was too fatigued to be on the road. In this case, however, police are investigating with the intent to pursue more serious charges against the driver.

A police spokeswoman said that while the investigation is just beginning, police will examine evidence such as the man's driving history and how long he had driven without taking a break. Those are also factors that an experienced personal injury attorney would likely examine when pursuing a claim against a truck driver and truck company involved in an accident. Because these investigations move slowly, it may be months before more information about this fatal truck accident are available.

Sources: National Sleep Foundation; Chicago Tribune, "Police: Trucker fell asleep before striking trooper, killing him," Carlos Sadovi, April 26, 2013

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