CHICAGO (CBS) — The National Transportation Safety Board Tuesday issued a scathing final report on an I-88 crash two years ago in which a Tollway worker died and a state trooper and two truckers were hurt.
The finding of driver fatigue as the direct cause was no surprise, but the NTSB said in its report that its overriding concern is getting unsafe truckers and trucking firms off the road. It also said that a sister agency, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), has done little to make that happen.
The NTSB found that both the drowsy trucker’s firm, DND International, and the firm that owned the rig he hit, Michael’s Cartage, were deemed “high risk” and had a history of noncompliance, including falsified records of hours worked.
DND trucker Renato Velasquez admitted he was falling asleep at the wheel when he plowed into a disabled Volvo truck on I-88 near Naperville. In the ensuing crash, tollway employee Vincent Petrella was killed, and Illinois State Trooper Douglas Balder was critically injured.
Velasquez slept less than 4-1/2 hours in the 37 hours prior to the accident, and failed to see either the warning flares, the flashing yellow lights on a Tollway HELP truck, or the red and blue flashing lights atop the Illinois State Police squad car rendering assistance. The NTSB also found that the truck Velasquez was driving was in such bad condition it should not have been allowed on the road.
DMD was not ordered off the road by FMCSA. The NTSB report said DMD continued to operate until its insurance was canceled. The report urged FMCSA to share its records with insurers.