Tired Truckers


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Jeane Moree works at one of the busiest gas stations in Hartsville. If you look outside her window, you can see and feel the traffic of commercial trucks rumble by.

She’s seen her share of accidents on Highway 151 too, “Just this year, about six.”

There's one crash in 2005 she remembers well. It’s the day 70-year-old Foster Johnson, a regular customer, was hit by a track trailer. Police reports show the driver fell asleep at the wheel.

“Daddy was parked right here at the light, right here.” Glen Johnson says his dad probably never saw the truck before it hit his car. Johnson’s car was slammed into a building, and nearly hit a nearby home. “It turned over right in front of that house right there,” said Johnson.

Johnson's death brings to light an increasing trend of tired truckers driving in South Carolina. During a five month investigation, we looked at every accident report in South Carolina that involved truckers who crashed when the contributing factor was fatigued or asleep.

We discovered a 75 percent increase in crashes from 2001 to 2005. Those fatigued drivers contributed to 158 accidents that killed nine people, and left more than 100 injured.

The worst happened in 2002 when a school bus was hit by a tired trucker in Lee County. 31 students were injured.

Despite property damage, loss of life, and injuries, only 42 percent of those tired truckers were never ticketed.

“South Carolina has a crash problem, period," said Colonel Anna Amos. She’s the deputy director of the state's transport police.

Amos says there is no state law that prohibits tired or sleepy driving.
Her agency inspects motor vehicles, including the number of hours trucks are on the road. Truck drivers are only allowed 11 hours on the road at a day.

State transport police says the biggest problem with tired truckers in the state lies in the number of interstate rest stops. There are simply not enough rest stops in South Carolina for truckers to park and sleep. On any given night, you can see rest stops over-packed with truckers trying to rest in Charleston County.

Now, when will stories like this be taken seriously to the point that adequate resting places are made available for those who make their living out on the road?

States are too busy passing laws that further restrict trucks to be concerned with truly promoting safety on the roads by actually doing something about it.

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