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Troopers say 54-year-old James Strauss of Oklahoma City, Okla., was driving east in a fully-loaded semi-truck on I-70, when his vehicle went off the right side of the highway, between an embankment and a guardrail.

The semi-truck then rolled onto its right side and slid down an embankment where it struck the concrete support pillar under I-70, leaving it entangled within the remaining support pillars under the overpass, according to the state patrol.

Troopers say alcohol, drugs and speed are not suspected to have contributed to the crash. However, they believe driver fatigue contributed to the crash.

CDOT says Strauss sustained serious injuries and was airlifted from the scene and brought to Aurora South. James Strauss is lucky to be alive.

Last month, a CBS4 investigation found that semi-truck drivers are blatantly falsifying their service logs and violating the Hours of Service regulations.

At Bachus & Schanker, LLC we have seen the devastating outcome that semi-truck accidents has on families.

Consider these statistics for 2006 from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration:
4,732 Large Trucks Involved in Fatal Crashes
4,995 Fatalities in Crashes Involving Large Trucks
135,741 Large Trucks in Non-Fatal Crashes
57,213 Large Trucks involved in Injury Crashes
85,984 Injuries in Crashes Involving Large Trucks

According to CBS4 reporter Rick Sallinger, truckers told him “cheating is common practice, everybody does it”. But yet, The Colorado Motor Carriers Association claims the “vast majority” of truckers do not falsify their logs. They claim improved safety figures prove their point. What does that really mean? There is an estimated over 3.3 million semi truck drivers in the U.S. A “vast majority” could mean any where from 51% to 99.9% don’t falsify their logs. What that means is anywhere from 1.67 million to 33,000 truckers are falsifying their logs. I don’t find those numbers particularly comforting. It’s kind of like saying Russian Roulette isn’t that dangerous because there aren’t bullets in all of the chambers.

Accidents can happen. There are careless car drivers, there are people not paying attention because they’re on their cell phone. There’s a moose in the road. Hazardous road conditions, brake failure, tire blow outs to name a few more. But, the idea of my friends, family or myself driving next to one of the “few” truckers who loses control of his 80,000 pound vehicle due to slower reaction time compounded by fatigue is frightening. What if you had been drivning next to James Strauss on Sunday?

I can’t put the blame entirely on the semi-truck drivers. I would argue that most truckers are decent people just trying to make a living. I would argue that the majority of responsibility lies with the trucking companies. Most semi-truck drivers are paid based on miles driven not hours driven and with the pressure deliver their goods on time, drivers are put in a no-win situation.

We need to hit truckers and the trucking companies where it hurts the most, their pocketbooks. Legislators on the state House and Senate transportation committees are considering stiffer penalties. No doubt the rising cost of fuel is putting the squeeze on the trucking companies’ profits, but it seems the trucking companies are putting their profit before our safety.

James Strauss was lucky this time. And we were lucky this time. How long will our luck hold?

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