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Fatigue Caused Fatal Truck Driver Error

January 18, 2006

Truck driver fatigue and lack of an audible warning device lead to the death of a garbage truck driver last July in British Columbia, reports the Vancouver Sun. The driver inadvertently raised the truck’s garbage box, which struck an overhead walkway and caused the fatal accident, a report by Worksafe B.C. finds. There was no reason for the driver, Ralston Vassell, to have pressed the button to dump a load. But the tilt switch is located next to the switch that opens the garbage box’s top door. Because Vassell had worked a series of overtime shifts in the days before the accident, and was not driving his normal truck, investigators believe he simply hit the wrong button, according to the Sun. The report also highlights the fact there was no audible alarm in the vehicle to alert Vassell to the fact the box was raised. Waste Management Canada has since installed such an alarm in its trucks.If the alarm had been installed, the report concluded Vassell could’ve lived. "With such a warning in place, [Vassell] would have had plenty of time to implement measures to eliminate, or at least to mitigate, the severity of loss suffered," it states. "He could have lowered the box or applied the brakes before the truck hit the overpass."
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