A commercial truck driver who crashed his tractor trailer into about a dozen parked cars in Long Beach, Calif., early Thursday morning said he had fallen asleep at the wheel.
The crash occurred around 1 a.m. on the 3300 block of Santa Fe Ave. between West Willow St. and 34th St., a stretch of street across from an industrial yard that residents say is busy and prone to accidents anyway. Add to that a commercial trucker falling asleep behind the wheel of a semi and the results can be disastrous.
Most people were inside at that time of the morning so no injuries were reported, but the property damage is considerable. Residents who have to park on the street were awakened by noises they described as a “big bomb” and “war zone,” which turned out to be the truck crumpling a line of automobiles.
Images of the crash scene show the driver’s side, front ends, and bumpers of about a dozen sedans, minivans, and SUVs smashed and mangled.
Authorities responding to the crash said drugs or alcohol did not appear to be a factor in the crash, and the driver was not charged with any crime.
Driver fatigue and falling asleep behind the wheel of a heavy commercial vehicle are generally not considered a crime when they lead to accidents unless there is evidence that the driver or trucking firm failed to comply with federal safety rules and regulations designed to combat fatigued driving.
Commercial driver fatigue also has been at the center of a contentious square-off between federal regulators and legislators aligned with the trucking lobby over hours-of-service rules intended to combat commercial truck and bus driver fatigue.
The charge to loosen these critical safety rules has been led by Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), who fought to unravel the laws and financially choke their enforcement so that truckers can drive longer hours with less restorative sleep.