As the Illinois State Police continue to investigate the death of one of their own, the deadly crash that killed Trooper James Sauter is a painful and tragic reminder of the dangers our law enforcement officers face on a daily basis.
Although the investigation is still early, it has been reported that the truck driver operating the semi-tractor trailer that killed Trooper Sauter lost control of his rig and veered off the highway onto the shoulder. The semi-tractor trailer slammed into the State Trooper’s car, causing it to burst into flame. Sadly, Trooper Sauter was reported to have died on the scene.
Deadly Truck Crashes
All too often, deadly truck accidents occur on our highways as a result of the truck driver or trucking company failing to follow the local, state and federal rules and regulations that detail how to safely maintain and operate large trucks. In this immediate case, it appears as though the United Van Lines truck had illegally driven off the highway onto the shoulder.
While establishing the chronology of events in any automobile accident is important, digging into the events leading up to and surrounding the crash are absolutely critical when investigating truck accidents. A thorough investigation will need to consider the timeline of the truck driver in the moments, hours and days prior to the crash. The investigation will need to carefully review the logbooks that truck drivers and trucking companies are required by law to keep. The investigation will also need to thoroughly examine the safety and compliance record of both the truck driver and the trucking company.
Fighting for Justice
In any fight to secure justice for those wrongfully injured or killed in truck accidents, it is very important to ensure that all the parties involved are properly identified. Certainly the truck driver and trucking company are likely party to any litigation. Yet, it is important to also consider the role that any equipment maintenance team might have played as well as the role of any loading or unloading teams. In fact, effort should be made to identity the shipping company or agent as well as they too have a responsibility for the safety of their shipments.
In many cases, driver fatigue, over-driving and distracted driving are often critical factors in determining the cause of a truck crash. Given the information that has been reported about this tragic truck accident, early indicators suggest that driver fatigue or distracted driving could be a strong consideration for possible causes.
The death of police officers killed in the line of duty is always sad. Those deaths are even more tragic when they come as a result of what appears to be very avoidable circumstances. In less than five months, two State Troopers have been killed on Illinois highways in avoidable crashes.
In an effort to improve the safety of our highways, I have taken an active role I campaigns by the American Association for Justice (AAJ) and the Association of Plaintiff Interstate Trucking Lawyers of America (APITLA) to address driver fatigue and over-driving. As a member of the National Advisory Board for APITLA, I will be sure to continue to raise awareness about this important topic.