The driver of the semi truck that hit 6 motorcycles on Interstate 85 in Guilford County, North Carolina, yesterday has been charged with felony hit and run and misdemeanor death, according to the North Carolina Highway Patrol. The motorcyclists were stopped on the shoulder of southbound I 85 when they were hit by the semitrailer.
The preliminary investigation found evidence that the driver had fallen asleep at the wheel, and that he did not stop until forced to do so when a tire went flat, according to news reports.
Under North Carolina law, it is a felony not to stop when a vehicle one is driving is involved in a crash resulting in serious bodily injury or death (General Statutes § 20-166). This is a criminal violation. Evidence regarding this can also be used in a civil proceeding brought by crash victims and their families. A civil lawsuit against the truck driver and trucking company will look at alleged violations of both state and federal law.
According to federal law, an interstate, long-haul truck driver has to take breaks from driving. The regulation regarding this specifies the “hours of service” allowed and requires the driver to keep a log of hours. The regulation is meant to prevent crashes like the one in North Carolina yesterday, and the log is meant to keep the driver and the trucking company accountable.
It is important to get information from the driver’s log as soon as possible after an accident. This is evidence that can be used in wrongful death and personal injury lawsuits against the driver, trucking company and others, including the owner of any freight being hauled.
This tragic crash resulted in the death of one of the cyclists. Two of the 5 survivors are still hospitalized, one in critical condition and one in stable condition. The semi driver and his passenger had no apparent injuries.