Sleeping Truck Driver Crashes into School BusDozens of children were injured and a driver was killed when a truck crossed the centerline and struck a car and an Orondo School District bus. According to a Seattle Press Intelligencer news report, the fatal truck accident occurred on Highway 97, five miles north of Orondo. Officials believe the 54-year-old male truck driver from Yakima fell asleep at the wheel before the truck crossed into oncoming traffic.
The 53-year-old female driver of the school bus swerved before the collision. Officials believe her actions could have helped prevent serious injuries to the bus passengers. Of the students on board, 43 were taken to nearby hospitals for evaluation. The driver of the car, a 22-year-old woman, died at the scene and her 12-year-old female passenger was treated and released. Officials have taken a blood sample from the truck driver, but they reportedly believe that he fell asleep behind the wheel. He was previously cited for crossing the centerline in an injury collision just last year.
Unlike cases involving drunk driving, there is no test to determine sleepiness. This means that it is often difficult to determine just how many accidents occur each year as a result of fatigued or drowsy driving. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that about 100,000 police-reported accidents are the direct result of fatigued driving every year. In those crashes, about 1,550 people are killed and 71,000 are injured.
Commercial drivers are required to get adequate rest before getting on the roadway, under federal regulations. Hours-of-service rules limit the number of hours a commercial driver can operate a vehicle without proper rest. Injured victims in such cases would be well advised to contact an experienced Seattle personal injury lawyer to obtain more information about pursuing their legal rights.