Asleep at the Wheel: Another Truck Driver Too Tired to Drive In State Route 49 (Indiana 49) Fatal Crash


Asleep at the Wheel: Another Truck Driver Too Tired to Drive In State Route 49 (Indiana 49) Fatal Crash

Just as the Memorial Day holiday weekend was about to begin, tragedy hit our community as Adele Nielsen of Grovertown was fatally injured in a semi truck crash on State Route 49 (Indiana 49). 

This week, we’ve learned that police investigators have already discovered that the truck driver admits to “dozing off” at the wheel, shortly before the horrific accident.

Adele Nielsen Truck Crash: What Happened Last Friday Morning

Facts will continue coming to light, of course.  However, from eyewitnesses and police investigators we already know that Adele Nielsen was alone a bit before noon on Friday morning, awaiting a red light to change at the intersection of State Route 49 (Indiana 49) and Vale Park Road.  She was driving a gold, four door sedan.

Rumbling down State Route 49, a big rig driven by Jeffery Mokol, 47, of Hebron, rammed into Nielsen’s vehicle from behind. The truck collision was so violent that the semi truck actually thrust the sedan 150 yards (450 feet) down the Indiana 49 roadway before coming to a stop atop the car itself. That’s longer than any NFL football field by about 100 feet.

HOS Regulations Designed to Prevent Truck Drivers Asleep at the Wheel

The danger of a driver at the wheel of a vehicle that can weigh between 50,000 and 80,000 lbs is well known to those in the industry. Federal and state regulations are filled with requirements designed to protect against drivers too tired to drive these huge and heavy machines on American roadways.

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is aggressive in this area. We’ve posted about the newly-revised HOS Regulations, CSA 2010, which are being implemented state-by-state across the country. Under CSA 2010, fatigued truck drivers are addressed in two sections of the new regulations: FMCSR Parts 392 and 395.

Of particular note is the language of FMCSR 392.3 ([35 FR 7800, May 21, 1970, as amended at 60 FR, 38746, July 28, 1995]):

§392.3 Ill or fatigued operator. No driver shall operate a commercial motor vehicle, and a motor carrier shall not require or permit a driver to operate a commercial motor vehicle, while the driver’s ability or alertness is so impaired, or so likely to become impaired, through fatigue, illness, or any other cause, as to make it unsafe for him/her to begin or continue to operate the commercial motor vehicle. However, in a case of grave emergency where the hazard to occupants of the commercial motor vehicle or other users of the highway would be increased by compliance with this section, the driver may continue to operate the commercial motor vehicle to the nearest place at which that hazard is removed.

Notice how the regulations address not only the truck driver but the motor carrier, as well. In the Nielsen crash, the carrier involved is S & H Transportation, which is headquartered in Missouri.

According to FMCSA, S& H Transportation, Inc., 475 Pearl Drive, O’Fallon, MO, is an interstate motor carrier, and first obtained motor carrier operating authority in 1981. The company reports that it primarily transports general freight, meat, fresh produce, refrigerated goods, beverages, and paper. S&H operates 179 semi tractors and has 220 truck drivers. The company reported that it traveled 19,945,157 miles in 2008.

Our Condolences to the Family and Friends of Adele Nielsen

Funeral services were earlier this week for Adele Nielsen. However, the Times of NW Indiana online obituary for Adele Nielsen is still active for those who would like to leave a message of condolence. Messages of comfort and support can also be left at the website guest book for Rannells Funeral Home.

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