Early in the morning during the winter of 2005, a 31-year-old male semi-truck driver died when the semi-tractor trailer he was driving left the roadway and rolled over into a ditch. He had just picked up a load of raw lumber from a lumber yard and pulled out of the gate onto a county road and driven about a mile when the incident occurred. His destination was a lumber mill approximately 150 miles away. He was driving on a straight stretch of the road when the right tires left the pavement and dropped onto the sloped grassy area next to the road. There was evidence the driver attempted to correct the tractor trailer and return it to the pavement. However, the ground was wet and the slope was steep. The tractor trailer hit a tree and rolled over onto a fence. There were no witnesses to the incident. Emergency medical services were contacted. Upon arrival, they found the driver on the inside of the roof of the overturned, upside down cab without vital signs. The local coroner was contacted who arrived and declared the driver dead at the scene. He had not worn his seatbelt. Toxicology results showed acetaminophen, Doxylamine, and Dextromethorphan (cold medications) were in his system at the time of death.

To prevent future occurrences of similar incidents, the following recommendations have been made:

Recommendation No. 1: Commercial vehicle carriers should implement and enforce a workplace policy that requires drivers to wear seat belts while operating a commercial vehicle.

Recommendation No. 2: Employers should implement and enforce a policy that prohibits commercial drivers who are ill or taking over-the-counter medications with potential side effects for impaired driving from operating a commercial vehicle.

Recommendation No. 3: Commercial vehicles should be in compliance with Department of Transportation regulations.

Recommendation No. 4: Companies should provide professional training for company truck drivers.

Recommendation No. 5: County roadways in Kentucky should be designed and constructed with an adequate shoulder area, or have guardrails that will deter commercial vehicle drivers from leaving the roadway.

Recommendation No. 6: Transportation companies should consider equipping semis with global positioning satellite systems.

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A summary of this case is available as the additional file listed below.

05KY008_Summary.pdf (34 kB)
Case Summary