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Trucker Taken Off the Road after Lethal Crash

A mother and her two small children died on November 15 when a truck heading east crossed the center median on Interstate 70 and crashed head-on into the family's passenger car. All three were wearing their safety belts. On December 16 after an investigation, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has issued a shutdown order for Texas-licensed truck driver Steven Wayne Johnson, 42, who was responsible for the accident.

Johnson, who was uninjured despite not wearing a seatbelt, was tested for drugs and alcohol during a field sobriety test immediately following the crash, and urine and blood samples were taken as well. According to the report, Johnson tested positive for marijuana and PCP in his blood.

The news only gets worse. According to Johnson's records-of-duty-status from the day of the crash, he had been driving for at least 21 consecutive hours before the crash. Further looks into his logs for the last 6 months reveal that 70 or his 160 records were missing. He also logged no off-duty time during that period.

While he now loses his truck license, Johnson also faces charges for involuntary manslaughter and driving under the influence. The FMCSA is also considering additional penalties for safety violations discovered during the investigation. The U.S. Attorney's Office may also take action for equitable relief and punitive damages. Along with the deaths, this blatant disregard for the rules, regulation and responsibilities as a commercial trucker will likely mean severe penalties for Johnson.

A potent reminder

This story is a potent reminder that trucking regulations are in place to keep the roads safe. Perhaps it will even inspire drivers to be safer. But no amount of laws and regulations can stop someone from making the kind of lapse in judgment that Johnson made until they are caught. The unfortunately truth is that drivers like Johnson are often caught after the tragedy has happened.

What can be done?

The tragedy in this case is catastrophic for the family of the victims. No amount of legal punishment will bring the mother and kids back, but a personal injury lawyer can file a wrongful death lawsuit. Compensation gained from this can be put towards medical and funeral expenses and also can be helpful in allowing the family members to move on to the next stage in their lives.

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