The family of a Farmington, Missouri truck driver was just awarded $7 million by a federal jury in his trucking death case. Roger Reagan was killed when his semi was struck by another trucker’s vehicle in Northern Arkansas. The jury found against driver Morgan Quisenberry and his employer, Dunway Timber Company.

Quisenberry was heading west on US highway 62 on September 3, 2008. His vehicle crossed the eastbound lanes and struck Reagan’s truck, killing the other man. According to records, Quisenberry was driving for long hours past the legal cutoff limit, and was severely fatigued. It appears he either became distracted, or dozed off at the wheel, losing control of his vehicle and leading to the accident.

Reagan’s attorney, Kent Emison, was quoted as saying, “The driver had inadequate experience and had a horrible driving record,” referring to Quisenberry. Emison went on to say, “I think the most significant thing about the case is that driving while fatigued or tired is just as dangerous as driving under the influence.”

Representatives of Dunway Timber Company declined to comment on the judgment, saying specifically they had and would have no comment. A number listed for Quisenberry was found to be disconnected when reporters tried to call him.

Emison’s comment on the danger of driving while fatigued is worth noting. People make more mistakes when exhausted; mental capacity and alertness decline quickly with each hour spent awake past normal resting hours; and physical coordination and response times also decline rapidly. When a truck driver is operating a multiple ton vehicle at highway speeds, they need all their mental and physical abilities operating at normal levels. Being exhausted not only increases the likelihood of making a dangerous mistake such as not noticing another driver on the road or drifting over a lane, but it also reduces a driver’s ability to respond to errors, leading to overcorrecting or failing to respond in time, and as this case shows, the results can be tragic and costly.