Archive for November, 2017

Slip on Ice Injures Driver’s Back, Ends Career

By: Paul Karolczyk

A 68-year-old truck driver sustained a permanently disabling lower-back injury when he slipped on ice during a routine post-trip vehicle inspection.


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On the day of the incident, the driver had just returned to his company’s home terminal from a delivery to a customer in a nearby state. The driver, a 45-year trucking veteran, still had to perform a post-trip DOT inspection before ending his shift. Freezing midday winter temperatures formed small ice spots on the terminal yard’s gravel surface. The driver climbed down from the cab and walked to the rear of his trailer, checking equipment along the way.


Coming back up on the passenger’s side, he slipped on ice near the tractor’s fifth wheel deck area. Attempting to break his fall, he grasped the cab’s right rear corner vertical grab handle, which jerked his body and worsened his injury. The injury ended the driver’s career, and exceeded $235,000 in direct costs.


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Drowsy Driving Awareness and Prevention Week, November 5-12

By: Paul Karolczyk

Sleepiness and driving is a dangerous mix that makes America’s roadways unsafe. To bring attention to this problem in Washington State, Governor Jay Inslee proclaimed November 5-12, 2017, as Drowsy Driving Awareness and Prevention Week. The governor’s proclamation supports the National Sleep Foundation’s campaign to educate road users about the hazards and serious consequences of drowsy driving.

Much like alcohol and drugs, sleepiness impairs a driver’s hand-eye coordination, reaction time, judgement, vision, and situational awareness. Sleepiness has many causes. Research shows that the risk of sleep-related crashes is higher for young males, shift workers, adults with children at home, truck drivers, and people with untreated sleep disorders or with short-term or chronic sleep deprivation.

In the United States, drowsy driving causes 100,000 crashes with 40,000 injuries and 1,550 fatalities each year. In Washington State from 2011 to 2015, drowsy drivers caused 308 serious injury and 64 fatal crashes. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s Large Truck Crash Causation Study attributed sleepiness and fatigue as factors in at least 18,000 or 13% of all commercial motor vehicle-involved crashes.

In Washington State drowsy driving is against the law, and could result in a $550 fine for negligent driving.

The following tips can help truck drivers prevent drowsiness and fatigue:

  • Get enough sleep before getting behind the wheel. Sleeping at night is best.
  • Maintain a healthy diet, eat at regular times, and don’t go to bed with an empty stomach or right after a heavy meal.
  • If possible, find a safe place to stop for a short nap lasting 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Avoid medication that may induce drowsiness such as tranquilizers, sleeping pills, allergy medicines and cold medicines.
  • Recognize the signals and dangers of drowsiness, including frequent yawning, heavy eyes, and blurred vision.
  • Do not rely on “alertness tricks” such as smoking, drinking coffee, rolling down the window, turning up the radio, etc.


More information on drowsy and fatigued driving:

Governor Inslee’s proclamation for Drowsy Driving Awareness and Prevention Week:

National Sleep Foundation:

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration:

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration: