On March 26, 2010, this space commented on a fatal truck accident that happened in Kentucky when the truck crossed the meridian and hit a van full of people. Eleven people were killed in that accident, including the trucker. Investigations are still ongoing six weeks later but some progress has apparently been made.
The truck driver, one Kenneth Laymon, was using his cell phone, both sending and receiving calls, just before he lost control of the truck. It is still not known whether he was still on the phone when the accident happened. According to a National Transportation Safety Board spokesman:
- “We have not yet determined if the driver was on the cell phone at the time the tractor-trailer departed the roadway nor have we made any determination if the use of the cell phone was a factor in the accident.”
Kentucky state troopers, who are also investigating, have eliminated weather as a cause, although the road was wet from rain the night before. Toxicology tests are not yet concluded to determine whether alcohol might have been a cause.
Questionable Driver Employer
The company that employed Laymon as a truck driver is Hester, Inc. It is under review now by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), which oversees the trucking industry. Previously, Hester had been given a driver safety evaluation and had scored 88.4, where 100 would be the worst possible score. However, the FMCSA had not given it a compliance review because it had been adequate in other respects.
In the driver safety evaluation, 194 driver inspections were done over a 30-month period, and 21 drivers were found to have exceeded their 11-hour driving limit or their 14-hour on-duty limit, making false entries in their log books. They were removed from the job. Exceeding those limits leads to truck driver fatigue, one of the most common causes of truck accidents.
Investigation of a truck accident must cover a lot of possibilities and angles:
- Trucker behavior
- Truck owner record of safety
- Truck driver employer record of safety
- Other driver behavior
- Truck maintenance
- Truck load safety
- Road conditions such as lighting, signage, and road design and maintenance
- Weather conditions
With ten people killed, not counting the truck driver, this was an especially tragic accident. The van was filled with people on their way to a wedding so no doubt the accident cast a shadow over the day for everyone concerned and maybe the wedding was postponed. There may be a number of lawsuits at some point for wrongful death.
If you have been injured in a truck accident or have lost a loved one in that way, we can help. Please contact us today if you are in the Mobile, Alabama area and would like to know more about your legal rights and options. There is no charge for your consultation.