UPDATE: NTSB rules speed, drugs and fatigue to blame for deadly - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

UPDATE: NTSB rules speed, drugs and fatigue to blame for deadly 2015 Ooltewah crash

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OOLTEWAH, TN (WRCB) -

UPDATE: The NTSB determined that probable cause of deadly 2015 Ooltewah crash was driver's failure to respond to the slow-moving traffic within the work zone.    

Driver Benjamin Brewer's drug use was cited by the NTSB, stating "performance detriments likely associated with his fatigue and methamphetamine use.Contributing to the crash was the failure of the pre-employment screening process to identify driver risk factors. Contributing to the severity of the crash was the high-impact speed."    

READ MORE | Continuing Coverage: Ooltewah Crash

"Crashes on our roads and highways take 30,000 lives every year. Today we discussed one crash and issued and reiterated recommendations that, if implemented, might prevent many others," said NTSB Chairman Christopher Hart.

The board said Benjamin Brewer was driving this truck around 80 miles per hour when it slammed into stalled traffic.

Brewer tested positive for meth after the crash and driving records show he had gone about 40 hours without sleep.

The board said Brewer had a clear history of traffic crashes (seven in the past five years) and drug use, yet the trucking company still hired him.

"Contributing to the crash was the failure of the pre-employment screening process to identify driver-risk factors," said NTSB Managing Director Thomas Zoeller, "Had Cool Runnings Express Inc. had used pre-employment hair drug tests, it would have likely notified of the truck driver's methamphetimine use."

Additionally, 70 safety regulations were proposed as a result of the investigation.

Two specific regulations were made to both the Tennessee Department of Transportation and the Tennessee Highway Patrol.

  1. Take steps to ensure that law enforcement personnel attend and participate in pre-construction conferences on works on projects of the interstate system. 
  2. Establish requirements for personnel to complete recurring training on law enforcement presence and control functions and highway zones that followed guidance such as the federal highway administration, safety practices are law enforcement personnel operating in highway work zones.

The NTSB staff also proposed amendments to the manual on uniform traffic control guidance for work zone project on fairways and expressways to advise traffic engineers on the use of supplemental traffic control strategies and devices to mitigate crash events involving heavy commercial vehicles. 


PREVIOUS STORY: The National Transportation Safety Board meeting Tuesday began with a discussion about the deadly 2015 Ooltewah crash that claimed six lives.

Regulation of truck drivers' time behind the wheel as well as gaps in safety systems are topics of discussion.

The NTSB board called the crash "a truly frustrating accident" and the need for a more cohesive system between state and federal regulations for motor carriers.

The findings from Tuesday's NTSB meeting are below:

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