Sleep Deprivation Blamed for Georgia Tractor Trailer Accident Fatality

As reported by The Courier Herald, a Sandersville (Washington County) man died last month after crashing into an 18-wheeler carrying chalk.

David Perry Williams, age 39, died following the accident on State Route 57. He was driving a 1995 Chevrolet 1500 pickup truck.

Williams was driving behind a tractor trailer owned by Howard Sheppard Trucking and driven by Chad Howell, 43, who suffered neck injuries.

Georgia State Patrol Trooper Mark Bracewell said “the Sheppard track driver was slowing to make a left-hand turn” when Williams’ Chevrolet crashed into the rear of the trailer.

“Apparently Mr. Williams fell asleep and ran into the rear of the chalk truck,” said Bracewell.

Williams worked third-shift and had just gotten off work to go home. Bracewell believes that Williams must have fallen asleep because there were no skid marks or indications that Williams had tried to stop his truck before the collision.

Williams was pronounced dead at the Medical Center of Central Georgia in Macon. Bracewell said that Williams was not wearing a seat belt, but he’s not sure if a seat belt would have protected him because of the tremendous impact between the two trucks.

Because tractor trailer trucks are so massive, weighing up to 80,000 pounds, accidents often cause massive injury or death. Tractor trailers comprise just 3% of vehicles on the road yet are involved in 21% of the fatal accidents.

In this case, it was the other driver who fell asleep, but all too often, tractor trailer drivers are forced to work on little sleep. According to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), driver fatigue causes 30 to 40 percent of track accidents. And, alarmingly, 19 percent of truck drivers reported falling asleep at the wheel in the previous month (NTSB 1992).

Sleep-deprived drivers suffer from impaired judgment and coordination as well as delayed response times, similar to drivers under the influence of alcohol. Several studies show that sleep deprivation affects drivers as much or even more than alcohol.

Getting seven to eight hours of sleep per night will keep you awake and alert when it counts. If you find yourself getting sleep behind the wheel, pull over and get some coffee or take a short nap.

If you’re injured in an accident due to someone’s sleep deprivation, call 911 immediately. Don’t discuss the wreck until police arrive, and don’t admit any fault. While you’re at the scene, take photos and get names and phone numbers of any witnesses. See a doctor as soon as possible, and call a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. Your attorney will need to act quickly to collect evidence.

Be careful when you’re speaking with insurance adjustors. They may record your telephone conversations and try to get you to admit partial fault. Once you hire an attorney, you don’t have to talk to insurance adjustors. You can refer all questions to your lawyer.

When you’re injured in a car wreck or truck wreck, MLN Law will get you the monetary compensation you deserve. Call (404) 531-9700 to schedule your free consultation.