Early last week, traffic on the Maine Turnpike near Farmingdale came to a virtual standstill following an incident in which a tractor-trailer driver fell asleep at the wheel, causing his vehicle to collide with a guardrail, according to officials from the Maine State Police.
Duncan MacPhee, of Prince Edward Island, was named as the driver of the vehicle, and neither he nor his lone passenger sustained injuries in the crash.
Incident responsible for delays
Witnesses and traffic officials reported that traffic on the affected stretch of the Turnpike was delayed for approximately 10 hours due to the collision involving a semi truck carrying a load of french fries. Crews immediately set to work removing debris and replacing over 100 feet of damaged guardrails. The incident produced backups on both north and southbound sides of Interstate 95, with traffic being reduced to a single lane for a significant portion of the morning.
Crash underscores dangers of drowsy driving
Maine Department of Public Safety spokesman Steve McCausland reported that MacPhee did indeed fall asleep at the wheel of his vehicle, a phenomenon responsible for an alarming number of commercial trucking accidents each year. Though it is unclear whether sleep apnea or other sleep-related disorders played a role in this particular incident, the problem of truck drivers falling asleep while operating their rigs has garnered increased attention in recent months.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) recently proposed a rule which would require individuals in safety-sensitive positions within the transportation industry to undergo testing for obstructive sleep apnea which can lead to situations precisely like the one that occurred on the Maine Turnpike. Regulations of this type would serve to bolster existing rules concerning the number of hours truck drivers are permitted to be on the roads in between rest breaks.
Liability in commercial vehicle accidents
Though no injuries resulted from this particular crash, it is important to note that such events do not always have such happy endings. Sadly, it is all too common for innocent individuals with whom big rigs share the road to suffer life-changing injuries and even death due to the negligence of motor carrier personnel.
When tragedies of this nature occur, it is critical that victims and their families realize that the legal system provides them the opportunity to seek accountability as well as monetary compensation for their losses.
Liable parties may include:
Owners of trucking companies
Contractors responsible for maintaining the vehicle at issue
Suppliers of truck components and equipment
Freight loading companies
It is important to keep in mind that those who own and operate commercial transportation enterprises may in fact be held liable for the acts and omissions of those they have in their employ. The key in any case of this type is for victims to align themselves with a seasoned truck accident attorney who can conduct a comprehensive investigation of the facts and determine who is to blame for the harm sustained.
Seasoned advocacy for victims across Maine
Since 1976, the personal injury attorneys of Hardy Wolf and Downing have been committed to pursuing and protecting the rights of injury victims across Maine. Decades of experience have given us unique insights into the challenges and struggles facing those who have been harmed by the negligence of others, and we stand ready to fight for justice and maximum financial compensation.
If you have been injured in a commercial vehicle accident and wish to learn more about how we can help, contact us at 1-800-INJURED.