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Serious Violations Preceded Deadly Truck Accident

A Chicago-area trucker is facing four felony charges for behavior leading up to a deadly wreck on I-88. The semi-truck accident occurred two weeks ago and claimed the life of a toll-way worker. It also left an Illinois State Trooper with critical injuries. As a result of his actions, the truck driver has been labeled an "imminent hazard to public safety" by the U.S. Department of Transportation. He has been ordered to stop operating commercial vehicles in interstate commerce by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

Among the complaints made against driver Renato Velasquez are that he falsified his log books. This was done to conceal the fact that he was driving more than the allowable hours of service. He is alleged to have driven a thousand miles during a period in which he received somewhere between 3 and 5.5 hours of rest. The FMCSA requires drivers to drive no more than 11 hours during a shift. It also forbids drivers to remain on duty after 14 consecutive hours of work. The hours of service limitations are intended to reduce the number of tired drivers on the roads.

The four felony counts involve one each for violating the 11 and 14 hour of service rules, as well as a felony count for falsifying the log book and another for driving while ill or fatigued. Fatigue was allegedly a contributing factor in the crash. The toll-way worker and the State Trooper had parked their vehicles and were assisting another semi-truck which had stalled when the collision occurred.

Source: 5 NBC Chicago, "I-88 Fatal Crash Trucker Labeled "Hazard to Public Safety"," by Phil Rogers, 12 February 2014

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