On Sunday, June 7, 2014, a tractor trailer owned by Walmart and driven by Kevin Roper plowed into the rear of a limousine owned by Tracy Morgan killing his friend, comedian “Jimmy Mack” McNair of Peekskill, New York. This local tragedy has once again given rise to truck and bus drivers driving long hours and lack of sleep that leads to crashes.

Tracy Morgan suffered a shattered leg, fractured bones, fractured nose and several fractured ribs. Within 24 hours the truck driver was charged with death by auto and four counts of assault by auto. The Journal News on Tuesday, June 10, 2014 reported that the truck driver had not slept in 24 hours before the accident. Authorities reported that Roper failed to slow for traffic ahead then failed to swerve to avoid a crash. The tractor trailer smashed into the back of Morgan’s chauffeured limousine. The criminal complaint against Roger claims he operated the tractor trailer “without having slept for a period in excess of 24 hours resulting in a motor vehicle accident”.

On June 10, 2014, the National Safety and Transportation Board pledged to probe the Saturday fatal crash on the New Jersey Turnpike in an effort to figure out what happened and use the information to avoid further chain reaction crashes involving commercial vehicles.

The report stated inattentive driving is dangerous driving. Drivers must at all times realize they are driving a multi ton vehicle down a path that is shared by other vehicles. The Georgia truck driver had as part of his twitter bio “move or get hit”. New Jersey police stated there is no room for such arrogance on the shared road. The New Jersey State Police claim that Kevin Roper of Georgia had dozed off and failed to see traffic slowing ahead as he headed North on the New Jersey Turnpike. His Walmart owned rig slammed into the Mercedes Sprinter passenger van carrying Tracey Morgan, Uncle Jimmy Mack McNair and several others. The article ends by stating “every driver must take responsibility for others sharing the road. Driving impaired or distracted or fatigued can quickly lead to disaster”.

We have already written in the past about the tour bus crash on I-95 in March, 2011 where a tour bus lost control, fell over and ripped open killing 15 people and injuring others. The bus driver was later acquitted of manslaughter. That bus crash was also attributed to lack of sleep by the bus driver.

To add insult to injury, Congress is considering a proposal to loosen the rule effectively allowing drivers to put in as many as 82 hours a week behind the wheel depending on the type of company employing the driver. This proposal is back by the Trucking Industry and opposed by Safety Advocates and the Obama Administration. Allowing truck driver to be driving 82 hours per week will lead to more distracted and sleep deprived accidents. Truckers cannot drive more than 11 hours each day without rest and may not work more than 14 in any 24 hour period. Congress should not extend those hours. Commercial truckers are required to keep a log of their sleep; time spent driving, loading and unloading. Regulations and requirements that drivers keep track of their hours are no substitute for a driver knowing his or her own limits.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a tractor trailer accident, call the law firm of Dominick J. Robustelli & Associates, PLLC at (914) 288-0800.

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