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Tracy Morgan Accident Prompts National Inquiry into Truck Safety

by on July 1, 2014

In the wake of the Wal-Mart tractor trailer collision that critically injured comedian Tracy Morgan and killed another passenger, new safety concerns regarding truck driver fatigue are coming to light, prompting increased scrutiny by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).

The fatal truck accident, which occurred on the New Jersey turnpike earlier this month, has highlighted the questionable industry regulations enforced by trucking companies, which ostensibly allow overworked and fatigued drivers to take to the roads, placing innocent motorists in harm’s way.

Police report that Kevin Roper, the Wal-Mart truck driver involved in the Tracy Morgan crash, had not slept for at least 24 hours and was speeding at the time of the accident. The Georgia man has since been charged with vehicular homicide along with four counts of assault by vehicle.

Nationwide epidemic of fatigued and overworked truck drivers

The horrific accident focused nationwide attention on the issue of tractor trailer and truck driver fatigue at a critical time. U.S. Congress was slated to roll back recent legislation which had cut a trucker’s work week from 82 hours down to 70, and required a half-hour break during the first eight hours of a shift.

The legislation also required that truck drivers have at least 34 consecutive rest hours, including two evenings between the hours of 1:00 and 5:00 a.m. – a time when the body most needs sleep.

Truck driving companies and truck drivers contended that these new regulations were counterproductive. “They never thought about the fact that if you keep trucks off the road between 1 and 5 a.m., what the impact is on traffic later,” said Todd Spencer, executive VP of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association. “It means more interactions and more accidents.”

Those who advocate for truck safety, however, argue that trucking companies would actually prefer to get rid of “restrictions” to increase profit margins, and that the industry downplays the dangers of driver fatigue.

U.S. Senator Robert Menendez echoes the sentiments of many Americans in the following comment:”Too many lives have been lost on our highways as a result of tired, overworked truck drivers who are pushed to the max in the name of corporate profits and at the expense of public safety.”

The grim reality is that U.S. highways are home to more than 4,000 deadly truck accidents every year, with the majority caused by overworked or fatigued drivers. Research shows that more than 40 percent of truckers report tiredness or pressure from work as a factor in crashes, and 65 percent of fatal accidents happen during long-haul trips.

If you lost a loved one or were injured in a truck accident, you need competent legal representation to ensure your rights are protected. Phoenix truck accident lawyers of Wattel &York provide free and confidential consultations to help determine if you are entitled to monetary damages.

Well-versed in national trucking regulations, our team of personal injury attorneys has more than two decades experience helping victims pursue justice through the courts. Learn more about filing an Arizona truck accident lawsuit, and call our offices today.

Advice from a Phoenix truck accident lawyer

Resources:

  1. NJ.com, Tracy Morgan crash: NTSB says truck driver was speeding and had worked 13 hours straight http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2014/06/tracy_morgan_crash_ntsb_says_truck_driver_worked_for_13_hours_straight.html
  1. NJ.com, Booker and Menendez seeking stronger trucker fatigue rules, in wake of fatal crashes http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2014/06/booker_and_menendez_seeking_stronger_trucker_fatigue_rules_in_wake_of_fatal_crashes.html
  1. NJ.com, In wake of Tracy Morgan crash, rising truck fatalities lead to new scrutiny http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2014/06/rising_truck_fatalities_nationwide_leading_to_new_scrutiny_in_wake_of_tracy_morgan_crash.html

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