In late July, Michigan was listed among the top 12 most sanctioned states in the nation that allow truck drivers with serious medical problems, including seizure disorders, to drive large tractor-trailers on the roads and that fail to require truck drivers to carry valid medical certificates. Clearly, Michigan is destined to have more truck accidents due to this sad fact.
Two days after the news, I took the deposition of Charles Dreyer, a truck driver that killed a man who was a loving husband and father of two beautiful daughters. I represent the estate. Mr. Dreyer admitted he had received no formal training or supervision from his trucking employer, Utica Transit Mix and Supply and T.V.K. Trucking, Inc. in Macomb County, Mich. Mr. Dreyer testified that he has a seizure disorder and takes Tegretol, a powerful epilepsy medication that causes drowsiness and delayed reaction time. This fact alone would automatically bar him from any interstate truck driving. Regardless, he drove a fully-loaded, 150,000-pound gravel truck with two trailers in dangerous, out-of-service condition.
Mr. Dreyer was speeding and he was in the left center lane of I-75 (two additional violations of Michigan law) when the truck’s left front steer tire blew. The tire would probably not have blown if Mr. Dreyer had inspected it, as he is also required to do by law, but he admitted he didn’t inspect his brakes or tires.
The tire blow-out caused Mr. Dreyer to lose control of his truck. The truck then swerved into a car that was traveling in the lane beside him, trapping the driver against the median wall, crushing and killing him. The deceased victim of the truck accident was a young engineer in the prime of his life. His wife and two little daughters desperately miss him.
This Fatal Truck Crash Never Should have Happened
Trucks are not supposed to dangerously lose control when they experience a tire blow-out, which is a foreseeable event. The car accident attorneys at Michigan Auto Law know this because we see tire remnants along the shoulder of roads all the time — but we do not see trucks veering wildly, smashing into passenger cars and causing death and destruction every time a tire fails.
But this truck was different.
Again, when his tire blew, Mr. Dreyer lost control because his truck was in defective and dangerous mechanical condition. The truck was not maintained and not inspected.
Truckers with Dangerous Medical Conditions Driving in Michigan
Unfortunately, this stomach-turning scenario is all too common on Michigan’s roads. In fact, truckers violating federal medical rules, like Mr. Dreyer did, have been caught in every state, according to a review by the Associated Press of 7.3 million commercial driver violations compiled by the U.S. Department of Transportation in 2006, which is the latest data available.
Even worse, Michigan was among the top 12 states sanctioned most frequently for breaking medical safety rules for truck drivers, such as failing to require truckers to carry a valid medical certificate. These 12 states including Michigan, account for half of all such violations in the country, the report said. Additionally, close to 600,000 commercial truck drivers with dangerous medical conditions who qualify for full federal disability payments are still on the roads driving tractor-trailers, said a recent U.S. Government Accountability Office study.
Meanwhile, the Associated Press article noted that the agency responsible for punishing unfit truck drivers, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, acknowledges it hasn’t completed any of eight recommendations that safety regulators have been proposing for nearly a decade.