“An Expiration Date”

Posted by on Aug 11, 2016 in Car Accidents | 0 comments

After attending a family reunion in Cleveland one sunny Monday of August 2010, Susan Slattery, with hers two sons, Peter, 16, and Matthew, 12, started home for Baltimore on their red Ford Focus. Douglas Bouch, a 30-year veteran driver, had just hauled three trailers to Indiana and was pulling three more back home to Greenville, Pennsylvania. On the Ohio Turnpike, he found himself driving behind Susan’s vehicle which braked for a construction zone. Despite the stopped car ahead,

Bouch’s big rig which was running at 65 mph did not slow down. Instead, it rammed Susan’s car into another semi-truck and collides with five other vehicles before resting at a concrete highway divider and bursting into flames. The collision killed Susan, aged 47, and confined Matthew in a wheelchair due to traumatic brain injury. Peter, despite his broken eye socket and pelvis, survived the accident, but would never talk about it. Bouch, the driver of the rig, was unhurt in the accident. He confessed of having had only three hours and 20 minutes of sleep and of dozing off behind the wheel prior to the accident.

Four years after the fatal accident, Bouch, a Baptist, could only say that God had a plan for Susan to die that day and for him to drive the truck: it was her “expiration date.”

Many will call this “religious delusion,” some others will not. Regardless, had Bouch taken enough sleep, would the accident have happened?

Rather than a heavenly design, what happened was simply a result of very poor and negligent choice. Drowsy driving is an extremely serious matter. Different government agencies, including the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), see it as a major cause of truck accidents resulting to serious injuries and deaths.

In the CDC website, it is explained that “falling asleep at the wheel is clearly dangerous, but being sleepy affects your ability to drive safely even if you don’t fall asleep. Drowsiness:

  • Makes drivers less able to pay attention to the road;
  • Slows reaction time if you have to brake or steer suddenly; and,
  • Affects a driver’s ability to make good decisions.”

Many drivers, it is true, put themselves to the limit (for a higher take home pay, but this is another story) and many trucking firms force their drivers to push themselves to the limit too (for higher profits): attitudes that continue to put so many lives in danger.

This is nothing short of violation of safe driving laws mandated on truck drivers and trucking firms. According to the website of Schuler, Halvorson, Weisser, Zoeller and Overbeck, P.A., if drivers and truckers cannot correct it, a legal action probably will.

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