Crash that killed 11 leads to new federal truck safety rule

Lexington Herald-LeaderApril 2, 2010 

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration said it has an "ongoing" compliance review of Hester Inc., the Alabama trucking company involved in the March 26 crash on Interstate 65 that killed 11 people.

And in another development on Friday, the federal agency issued a new rule that will require some interstate commercial truck and bus companies to install electronic onboard recorders to monitor the number of hours drivers work.

Under federal regulations, a commercial truck driver can't drive for more than 11 hours per shift and can't be on duty for more than 14 hours.

The rule was proposed long before the Hart County crash, but the accident brought renewed attention to onboard recorders.

The driver of the tractor-trailer, Kenneth Laymon, 45, of Jasper, Ala., crossed the median near Munfordville and slammed into a van, killing 10 people and himself, Kentucky State Police said. The others who died were Mennonites traveling to a wedding in Iowa. Two young children survived the crash.

It's not known what caused the crash, but the National Transportation Safety Board is looking into whether the driver fell asleep, was impaired or suffered a medical condition that caused him to lose control. The NTSB said Friday that the investigation is continuing.

Hester's has had at least 13 drivers' violations for driving too many hours during the past 30 months, according to the FMCSA.

Shashunga Clayton, a spokeswoman with the FMCSA, said compliance reviews are typically done in all fatal crashes. The review includes a look at the driver's hours of service, vehicle maintenance and inspection, driver qualification, controlled substance and alcohol testing, and compliance with licensing requirements.

She couldn't estimate how long it will take to complete the review.

"It varies" depending on the size of the fleet, Clayton said. "It will last a couple of weeks, that's for certain. It may depend upon how soon we get their records, how organized that carrier is."

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