Conclusions of Investigation into Tracy Morgan Crash Find Evidence of Problems with Long-Haul Driving Logs
Last July, we described the lawsuit that Tracy Morgan filed against Wal-Mart and other responsible entities for injuries he received in a crash with a Wal-Mart tractor-trailer. That lawsuit has since been settled for an undisclosed sum. Since then, an investigation into the causes of the crash has uncovered that the driver of the Wal-Mart truck, Kevin Roper, was driving over the posted speed limit of 45 miles per hour when the crash occurred, and that, had he been driving at the speed limit, he would have been able to brake in time to avoid the stopped cars in front of him, based on analysis of skid marks indicating when he began to brake. Roper had driven over 800 miles from Georgia to Delaware, overnight, and had continued on toward Perth Amboy without first stopping for sleep when the accident occurred. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), which conducted the analysis of the accident, determined that Roper had been driving for 28 hours straight when the crash occurred, which is twice the federal legal limit of 14 hours in a day. Roper denies that he had been driving so many hours, but declined to be interviewed by the NTSB for the report.
Driver fatigue is cited as a factor in many large truck accidents. Pressure to cover a great deal of ground quickly, coupled with the desire to drive through the night to avoid rush hour traffic, can lead to drivers pushing themselves to stay awake on the road at all hours. Versions of a Department of Transportation funding bill recently approved of by committees in both the US Congress and Senate have allowed a suspension to remain in place of certain 2013 changes to the hours of service regulations created by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association, a body that regulates commercial trucking. The suspended enforcement relates to the 34-hour restart rule. This rule requires commercial truckers to take a break lasting at least 34 hours after driving 60/70 hours in a 7/8 day period (depending on whether the company operates on a 7- or 8-day work week). The suspended portion of that rule required that the 34-hour period include at least two periods between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. Opponents of the restart rule claim that there is no data to back up an increased benefit to safety under the rule, that the rule would result in more trucks being on the road when other drivers are likelier to be on the road, and that further studies of the benefits of the rule must be completed before it should go into effect. Those in favor of the overnight rest period point to incidents such as the accident involving Tracy Morgan as examples of why drivers need more rest at regular intervals than they are currently getting.
Large trucks are involved in approximately 25% of all multi-vehicle accidents on our highways. If you have been injured in an accident with a large truck, seek out legal help with the experience and understanding of the law to help ensure you’re fully compensated. Contact the Princeton, Virginia Bayless Law Firm for a consultation on your claims by calling 304-487-8707.