Actor Tracy Morgan is Victim of Truck Driver Fatigue
Most of the country was rocked by the news that well-known actor and comedian, Tracy Morgan, was in critical condition after being hit by a truck driver on I-95 in New Jersey. A friend of Morgan’s, who was in the star’s limo, was unfortunately killed in the crash.
While Morgan is recovering in a NJ hospital, this accident has shed light on truck driver fatigue, causing authorities to take a closer look at truck safety in America. According to the complaint filed in Middlesex County Court, the truck operator had not slept in excess of 24 hours. The accident took place at 1:00 a.m., and the trucker failed to notice slowed traffic ahead of him on the New Jersey Turnpike, causing him to ram into the rear of Morgan’s limo.
New federal regulations, which went into effect in 2013, limit truckers to 11 hours of driving during a 14-hour work day and to a maximum of 70 driving hours per week. If you’re a trucker who is drowsy or fatigued, it is your responsibility to pull over and rest immediately.
Interestingly enough, just days before Morgan’s accident, the Senate Appropriations Committee actually passed an amendment which would no longer require truck drivers to take a mandatory rest for at least 34 consecutive hours before beginning their next work week. The committee was looking to weaken laws aimed at reducing truck driver fatigue.
An article published in A Journal of Public Health showed that almost 66 percent of truck drivers routinely violated rest laws because they can’t afford the financial penalty of not doing so. In the article, multiple truck drivers were asked about some of the common reasons for driving more than 10 hours in a day. Thirty one percent said they needed the money, 31 percent cited a tight schedule.
Many trucking companies pay their employees by the mile instead of by the hour. This strategy puts the onus and the risk on the driver, as opposed to the companies. This means the truckers pay, literally, for traffic jams, weather delays, construction and mechanical issues. This causes some to find ways to cut corners and to drive at excessive speeds and distances, obviously dangerous practices.
The U.S. Department of Transportation published the Driver Fatigue and Alertness Study which examines the risks of driver fatigue. The study found fatigue is the leading cause of heavy truck crashes. In addition, medical research has consistently shown most people require at least seven to eight hours of sleep per day. The DOT study showed the average trucker gets 4.8 hours of sleep.
At the Law Offices of Craig A. Altman, our attorneys are highly experienced and knowledgeable about Pennsylvania and New Jersey personal injury law. If you or a loved one has sustained an injury in a car, truck or motorcycle accident, contact us today for a free consultation.