The images were shocking, and the public was stunned when comedian Tracy Morgan was nearly killed in a June 2014 road accident. Morgan suffered a broken nose and leg, several broken ribs, and a traumatic brain injury when a truck semitrailer rear-ended his limo van. He spent two weeks in a coma. Fellow passenger James McNair was killed, and three other passengers suffered serious injuries. The driver of the commercial truck was fatigued and traveling well over the speed limit.
Hours-of-Service Regulations Protect Travelers on the Road
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) defined hours-of-service regulations that set limits for when and for how long truck drivers can operate commercial vehicles. These rules specify how many consecutive hours drivers may be on the road, mandatory rest times, and weekly limits on driving. The purpose of these rules is to keep tired truckers off the roadways. However, they are not always effective. They do not address what drivers do before starting a shift. The driver in the Morgan crash had traveled 12 hours to work with no rest before getting on the road. He was at the end of a 14-hour driving period and had been awake for 28 hours at the time of the crash.
NTSB Finds More Regulation Needed
An investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) determined the truck driver in the Morgan case did not have adequate sleep before starting his long shift and was traveling 20 mph over the posted speed limit. The NTSB stated driver fatigue as the probable cause of the crash, saying the driver’s lack of sleep delayed his response time to the slowing traffic conditions.
Recommendations Could Help Mitigate Future Accidents
To help avoid future injuries and deaths, the NTSB has made a number of recommendations for both commercial and non-commercial drivers. These recommendations include:
- Implement improved fatigue management programs for trucking companies
- Improve the operation and recording of crash warning systems
- Improve work zone safety, including traffic monitoring and warnings for drivers
- Increase seat belt use and the proper adjustment of head restraints
Fatigued driving is impaired driving. If you or your loved one suffered injuries in a wreck involving a semitrailer, contact our experienced Atlanta legal team for a free consultation.