Today a tractor trailer accident on a frozen Michigan highway spilled a truckload of eggs when the driver fell asleep and crashed. The spilled eggs broke, scrambled and froze on the concrete. Fortunately, there were no injuries reported.
This reminds me of a case we had on I-75 in south Georgia a couple of years ago. A truck driver trying to make it from Milwaukee to Tampa with a load of frozen hamburger meat without any rest recorded on a log fell asleep at the wheel, striking our client’s vehicle. The state trooper told me his biggest challenge was crowd control, stopping local deputies from making off with all the spilled hamburger patties.
There are at least a couple of possible violations of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations evident in the news report.
* 49 CFR 392.3 prohibits operation of a commercial motor vehicle when driver’s ability or alertness is so impaired, or so likely to become impaired, through fatigue, etc., so as to make it unsafe to drive. When truck drivers fall asleep at the wheel due to excessive fatigue, we often uncover violations of the hours of service regulation at 49 CFR 395.3.
* 49 CFR 392.14 requires “extreme caution” in the operation of a commercial motor vehicle when hazardous conditions, such as those caused by snow, ice, sleet, etc., adversely affect visibility or traction. The news report does not specify whether there was ice on the road, only that the eggs froze after the crash.
Ken Shigley is a trial attorney in Atlanta, Georgia who has been listed among the “Legal Elite” (Georgia Trend Magazine), as a “Super Lawyer” (Atlanta Magazine), and in the Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers (Martindale), and is a Certified Civil Trial Advocate of the National Board of Trial Advocacy. He was chair of the Southeastern Motor Carrier Litigation Institute, is on the National Advisory Board for the Association of Interstate Trucking Lawyers of America, and is a frequent speaker at continuing legal education programs for the Interstate Trucking Litigation Group of the American Association for Justice. Mr. Shigley has extensive experience representing parties in trucking and bus accidents, products liability, catastrophic personal injury, wrongful death, brain injury, spinal cord injury and burn injury cases. Currently he is Secretary of the 40,000 member State Bar of Georgia.