Several days ago, Tracy Morgan was critically injured and another comedian killed when a sleep-deprived trucker crashed into their limousine late in the night on June 7. The accident has begun to emphasize the importance of safety among trucking companies; specifically how the truck driver, Kevin Roper, had been awake for 24 hours, according to news reports. Truck driver fatigue is a major concern and this tragic accident only reiterates the dangers.
The Wal-Mart driver, Kevin Roper, struck the vehicle Morgan and company was traveling in on the New Jersey Turnpike early Saturday morning. James “Jimmy Mac” McNair, a friend and long-time writing partner of Morgan was the passenger killed in the truck accident. Tracy Morgan suffered serious injuries, including broken bones, and remains hospitalized Tuesday. Three others were also hurt. The Wal-Mart driver has been charged with one count of vehicular homicide and three counts of injury by auto, according to the criminal complaint filed in Middlesex County Court.
Truck Driver Hours Limited by Federal Regulations
Federal regulations state that truck drivers are limited to driving in 14-hour shifts. The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) also implemented new regulations last year, making drivers rest for a minimum of 30 minutes to prevent exhaustion during the first 8 hours of their shift. Maximum workweeks have also been reduced to 70 hours a week, including a 34-hour break once per week.
The rules, updated in 2013, are meant to make it easier for drivers to spend time resting, but in practice, they make it harder to make shipping deadlines, according to the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association. According to the DOT, if drivers are feeling a time crunch from their trucking employers, then it is the fault of the trucking companies.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said driving with too little sleep causes more than 100,000 crashes a year, resulting in 40,000 injuries and 1,550 deaths. According to the Large Truck Crash Causation Study, in 2006, about 13 percent of all commercial motor vehicle accidents were caused by driver fatigue.
Trucking Companies Should Be Aware of Risks
Semi-trucks are large and getting into an accident with one is not likely going to end well. That is why drivers and trucking companies should be more cognizant of the dangers and risks these trucks present. If Wal-Mart truck driver Roper had really not slept in 24 hours that is a serious concern. In the past, trucking companies used to deny liability. Now, however, federal regulations have closed the loopholes companies try to use and they are responsible for any accident involving their trucks.
If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident in Southern California involving a truck driver, do not hesitate to contact us to learn more about your rights and options.