The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) continues to investigate the horrendous truck accident that seriously injured actor and comedian Tracy Morgan and killed his friend and mentor James McNair on the New Jersey Turnpike. This crash raised considerable safety issues, including driver fatigue and truck safety. The Wal-Mart truck driver who crashed into the back of the limousine-van carrying Morgan, McNair, and several others had been awake for at least 28 hours prior to the crash.
NTSB investigators recently held a meeting to explore the accident and most of the focus was on driver fatigue. Investigators revealed that had the truck driver slowed his speed to 45 miles per hour, which is the posted speed limit for a construction zone in the state, the crash would never have occurred. Investigators report the truck was driving at about 65 miles per hour and was slow to react to the sign that stated it was entering a construction zone and should limit its speed.
Instead of slowing in time, the tired trucker hit the back of the limo while traveling at a high rate of speed and set off a chain reaction crash that impacted 21 people. The truck driver has been charged with death by automobile and four counts of assault. The criminal complaint alleges that the truck driver did not sleep for over 24 hours.
Wal-Mart settled a lawsuit brought by Morgan and two friends for an undisclosed amount. They also filed a suit brought by McNair’s children for $10 million. Now, federal agencies continue to probe the accident and uncover safety concerns that the accident raised.
Exceeding the Hours of Service Regulations Can Lead to Dangerous Results
Federal law sets hours of service rules that limit on long a driver can operate a truck and be on duty. The laws apply when most commercial trucks travel in interstate commerce. Some states have additional regulations that further aim to reduce the possibility of overtired truckers. When hours of service requirements are not adhered to, serious accidents can result.
Current regulations prohibit drivers to be on duty for more than 14 hours after being off duty for 10 or more hours. Once a driver reaches 14 hours of service, he or she must observe a 10 hour rest period. During their 14 hours on duty, a truck driver cannot drive for more than 11 hours. Truckers can put in a maximum of 70 hours of driving within a week and must rest for 34 consecutive hours before they resume.
Truck drivers can at times feel economic and workplace pressure to exceed hours of service requirements. Any truck accident victim should consult with a truck accident attorney as soon as possible. Your truck accident attorney will explore the possibility that fatigue played a role in the crash.
Greenberg Stone and Urbano: Truck Accident Attorneys With Over 130 Years of Collective Experience
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