In court Wednesday, prosecutors said the semi driver who caused a deadly crash on Interstate 88 Monday night had been working more than 36 hours at the time of the accident.
Local driving instructors say the accident highlights the importance of logging the correct hours behind the wheel.
“Some people try to cheat the system for money or for getting more miles. That is discouraged by the best in the business,” said Steve Scranton, a CDL instructor with 160 Driving Academy in Moline.
Scranton says truck drivers are allowed to drive up to 11 hours per day, and they can spend up to 14 hours on the clock. This allows for three hours of work such as loading and unloading.
Companies also set standards for the number of hours allowed per week — typically 70 hours per 8 days or 60 hours per 7 days. Drivers must then track their hours of service in detailed log books.
“If you’re tired, nothing will make up for that other than rest. There’s not any coffee or remedy that is going to take care of fatigue,” said Scranton.
Fatigue is likely to blame for Monday night’s crash near Aurora, Illinois. A tollway worker was killed and a state trooper was badly injured when a semi slammed into the squad car on the side of the highway.
Prosecutors said the semi driver, Renato Velasquez, had been working more than 36 hours at the time of the crash on only 3 1/2 hours of sleep.
“What happened Monday evening is just a terrible, terrible tragedy that was preventable. The fact is that driving a commercial vehicle while not having enough sleep is just as dangerous as driving while drunk or under the influence of drugs,” said DuPage County State’s Attorney Robert Berlin.
Velasquez now faces felony charges for driving while impaired/fatigued and falsifying his logs.
Scranton hopes it’s something his students will never consider doing.
“If somebody has an accident, and they are found to be in violation of the hours of service, it does tarnish the image of the whole industry when most people are in compliance,” said Scranton.