Illinios Truck Driver in Fatal Crash Accused of Driving 36 Hours Straight

The Chicago Sun-Times reports an Illinois truck driver named Renato V. Velasquez has been criminally charged with operating a commercial motor vehicle while impaired or fatigued, making a false report of record and duty status, and driving beyond the 14 and 11 hour rules, failure to reduce speed to avoid an accident and failure to yield to a stationary emergency vehicle.

Illinois State police Police allege Mr. Velasquez, the trucker, had been on the road driving for more that 36 hours when his truck crashed into emergency vehicles that had been stopped on the right hand lane and shoulder on I-88 near Aurora. The vehicles had been were helping with a broken down semi. Vincent Petrella, an Illinois Tollway worker who was on the scene helping out was killed and Illinois state trooper, Douglas J. Bader was critically injured. The 36 hours that Mr. Velasquez was driving far exceeded the federal time limits a truck driver is allowed to spend behind the wheel at one time. Truck driver’s shifts are limited to 14 hours with only 11 hours actually on the road under federal rules.

According to a Chicago Tribune story entitled “Did trucking rules fail?” that appeared on January 30, 2014, the United States government has tried for years to require that drivers use electronic logbooks which are harder to falsify than paper logbooks. Velazquez is accused of falsifying his paper log book.

The article quoted Ian Savage, a transportation economist at Northwestern University on this topic. “I’m just amazed that years have gone by and we haven’t been aggressive on electronic log books.”

Stephen Keppler, the executive director of the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance, which represents motor safety officials, stated in the same article that, “Falsification of log books has been a chronic problem in the industry for years… they continue to be a major violation. We believe electronic logbooks will certainly help curtail that activity.”

Large trucking companies that already use e-logs and industry groups such as American Trucking Association support requiring all truckers to use e-logs.

The Chicago truck accident lawyers of Zneimer and Zneimer P.C also support this requirement given the danger that a semi-truck driver posses to other drivers on the road. The fatal truck crash that killed Vincent Petrella is tragic example of why this requirement is necessary.