On September 28, 2010, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) in Washington, D.C. announced its determination that a fatal multicar crash that occurred on June 26, 2009 in Miami, Oklahoma was a devastating consequence of fatigued driving.

The driver of a 2008 Volvo truck-tractor semitrailer suffered “acute sleep loss, circadian disruption associated with his shift work schedule, and mild sleep apnea,” according to a press release from the NTSB. As a result, he failed to react to a stopped line of traffic—neither by braking nor by swerving to avoid a collision.

His truck-tractor semitrailer impacted first an SUV before hitting three more vehicles, the third of which was rammed into a livestock trailer being towed by a pickup truck. The pickup truck slammed into an additional, fifth vehicle.

Ten people who were in the much smaller passenger vehicles that were impacted by the truck-tractor semitrailer were killed. Five were injured in addition to the 76-year-old, fatigued truck driver.

NTSB Chairman, Deborah A.P. Hersman, said, “This crash points out the need for three important actions by federal regulators that would go a long way to reducing this type of accident on our roadways.”

First, a fatigue management system would help educate drivers and their employers about the pernicious hazards of fatigued driving. Second, event recorders such as video on motor carriers like the truck-tractor semitrailers would help accident investigators following up on similar collisions. Finally—since this accident was in part due to traffic congestion from a prior accident on the road—a collision warning system could be a successful preventative measure.

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