Over the weekend, the country woke to news that famed comedian, star of NBC’s 30 Rock, Tracy Morgan, along with a handful of others, were involved in a deadly multi-vehicle collision on the New Jersey Turnpike. According to authorities, the accident was caused when a Wal-Mart tractor-trailer crashed into a limousine bus carrying Mr. Morgan and fellow comedians, and another vehicle. The driver of that Wal-Mart truck has been charged with vehicular homicide and assault by auto.
The crash brought to light a growing concern on our highways – the rigorous and demanding job of truck drivers, including the long-hours they are expected to work. ABC News ran a story on the issue saying that “the trucker who crashed into a limo carrying comedian Tracy Morgan hadn’t slept in 24 hours.” According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, there are strict limits on how long drivers can spend driving and commercial truck drivers are required to log hours of driving, loading/unloading, and sleep. Currently that restriction is 11-hours of driving, as long as there is a 30-minute break within 8 consecutive hours. But there are rules that allow for a 14-hour work day before any off-duty break is required.
While the investigation into the accident involving Tracy Morgan continues, there is no official word from Wal-Mart on changing its policies to make the roadways safer. In fact, Congress is currently considering a rule-change to increase the work-week for truck drivers from 60-70 hours (depending on the type of company) to 82 hours behind the wheel!
These long days on the road with little to no sleep are a cause for concern to fellow motorists. Groups like Parents Against Tired Truckers (P.A.T.T.) are leading the fight to curb the lengthy driving hours and increase the amount of rest time. P.A.T.T. publishes studies and statistics to prove their point saying 65% of truck drivers often or sometimes feel drowsy while driving. Founder of P.A.T.T., Daphne Izer felt the tragic consequence of a tired, fatigued truck driver in 1993 when her 17-year-old son, Jeff, and several of his friends were killed when a truck driver fell asleep and crashed into them.
There are roughly 4,000 fatalities every year from large truck crashes, with driver fatigue being the leading factor. Visit the Truck Safety Coalition for more information on how you can help make the roadways safer by ending truck driver fatigue. If you or someone you know has been in an accident caused by a tractor-trailer, make sure you contact us immediately.