North Carolina Trucker Falls Asleep, 50,000 Pounds of Potatoes Cake the Highway

A truck driver traveling on I-77 in North Carolina reportedly dozed off at the wheel around 2 a.m., overturning his rig and causing some 50,000 pounds of potatoes to splatter across the roadway. The truck reportedly crashed against the guardrail with such heavy force that the engine went flying out of the rig. The crash occurred in Charlotte.  potatoes

Cue the mashed potato jokes. Or the one about the “flash spudding.” And don’t forget the Twitter hashtag, #mashdestruction.

But the truth of the matter is, trucking accidents caused by lack of sleep are no laughing matter. It’s a serious issue, although it usually only makes headlines when it results in a crash that’s noteworthy or tragic. It’s also a surprisingly common one. A survey conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety revealed some 88 percent of responding police officers had at least once pulled over a driver they thought was drunk, but who in fact turned out to be fatigued. Another 97 percent of police felt that drowsy driving was a huge problem for commercial drivers. 

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimated some 100,000 police-reported crashes (1.5 percent of the total) involve drowsiness as a principle cause, resulting in some 71,000 injuries and 1,500 deaths. Still, the actual number are almost assuredly much higher. These are just those about which we know. Not all sleepy drivers report it (or even acknowledge it), and it’s not as if drowsiness can be tested in the same way that alcohol intoxication can.

In instances of commercial truck accidents in North Carolina, investigators will often want to know whether the driver was adhering to federal hours of service regulations. Those laws limit the number of hours truck drivers can be on the road and on-the-clock. The hope is that such measures will drive down fatigue-related crashes. And yet, as the recent trucking accident case shows, it continues to be a serious problem plaguing our roads.

The driver in the potato truck crash reportedly was not seriously injured, though he was transported to a local hospital to be checked out. No other vehicles were involved in the accident either, thankfully, though the road did have to be shut down for many hours as snow blows and tractors were called to clear the mess. Unfortunately, most of the potatoes are no longer good for consumption due to the fuel that had spilled over a huge number of them. There is a bit of silver lining, though: A few hundred pounds that fell onto the grass of a nearby exit ramp were not contaminated, and therefore would be washed off and donated to a local food bank to feed the hungry.

For those who are less fortunate in truck accidents, it’s imperative to contact an experienced injury lawyer. Tired drivers are something the trucking industry and individual truckers often try to conceal. Many drivers are on strict deadlines and the faster they make deliveries, the more they can make and the more money they earn. But of course, that comes at the expense of not only their safety, but that of everyone else on the road.

Contact the Carolina injury lawyers at the Lee Law Offices by calling 800-887-1965.

Additional Resources:

N.C. crash turns 50,000 spuds into mashed potatoes, May 6,2016, By Lucy Schouten, The Christian Science Monitor

More Blog entries:

Traynum v. Scavens and Progressive – UIM Auto Insurance Rules in South Carolina, May 9, 2016, Charlotte Truck Accident Lawyer Blog

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