The driver of a tractor-trailer who seemingly fell asleep at the wheel is in critical condition after sustaining third degree burns over 60 percent of his body from the crash . According to mahwah.patch.com, 64-year-old Clarence J. Belton, of Chicopee, Massachusetts, likely fell asleep at the wheel of his eighteen-wheeler, veering of the road late at night last Tuesday. Belton’s truck subsequently struck another tractor-trailer hat was parked on the shoulder, broke through the guardrail and drove into the woods.
Truck Caught Fire
At some point during the accident, the fuel tanks of the eighteen-wheeler were punctured and the truck caught fire, with both the vehicle and the driver ending up completely engulfed in flames. By the time police arrived, Mr. Belton had managed to crawl out of his truck and was lying on the ground in flames from his chest down. Police Sgt. Rob Curtis used a fire extinguisher to put Mr. Belton’s fire out, noting that by then he had suffered third degree burns to 60 percent of his body from his chest to his feet.
By Wednesday morning firefighters had put out the fire, but not before it had completely destroyed the eighteen-wheeler, which was hauling milk cartons. the fire spread to the near by woods surrounding the accident scene.
Driver fatigue is a common occurrence in eighteen-wheeler accidents. Truckers stay behind the wheel for more hours than they are allowed to by law and more than they should. once tired drivers often fall asleep. Throughout our many years of practice we have seen crashes happen time and again due to fatigue . Typically, jobs that are supposed to be handled by two drivers, are handled by one driver because they don’t want to split the money that the trucking company is paying for a particular trip between two. Since they don’t have a back-up driver to help them handle the extra hours, they have to stay behind the wheel for more hours than they should, get tired and fall asleep. This situation is usually aggravated when the company sets an unreasonable delivery schedule, making it more difficult for the driver to rest as much as he needs.
We cannot help but wonder whether the delivery schedule for this particular truck-load was reasonable. In our many years of experience handling commercial truck accident cases, we have seen trucking companies set unreasonable delivery schedules for their trucks, forcing their drivers to drive far longer hours than they legally should, all in the name of profit. It would not be the first time we see greed propel tractor-trailer drivers to drive far more hours than they should until fatigue sets in and an accident happens. However, as we’ve said before, the blame should not be placed solely on the truck drivers: trucking companies and their freight forwarding clients should not be allowed to set delivery schedules that cannot be met unless the truck drivers break the rules. Consequently, these drivers are prompted to continuously drive for so many hours that they end up falling asleep and causing this kind of accidents.
We frequently report on tractor-trailer accidents caused by circumstances similar to those in this case. For example, in our post of October 15, 2012, we talk about another eighteen-wheeler accident in which two people were killed after a truck driver apparently fell asleep and rear-ended their vehicles.
Of course, these accident not only happen when truck drivers fall asleep. In our post of November 15, 2012, we reported about a commercial truck accident were several vehicles were rear-ended by a trucker distracted while using his cell phone.
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