Last year, Tracy Morgan and his entourage were traveling on the New Jersey turnpike when a tractor-trailer struck their limo bus. The comedian was critically injured and lost his close friend, 62-year-old comedian James McNair. Three other passengers were badly hurt in the accident.
Christopher Hart, Chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board, informed those attending the hearing that the “driver in the Cranbury crash had been on duty for 13½ hours of a 14-hour day, with more driving planned. He had been awake more than 28 hours when his truck struck the limo van, including an overnight drive from his residence in Georgia to the distribution center at which he was based” (emphasis hours).
Hart’s detailing of the NTSB’s findings highlights national issues with big rigs on the road. The accident occurred while Congress was debating changes to federal regulations for truck-driver scheduling. Currently, drivers must take a 30 minute break for every 8 hours of driving, are not supposed to drive more than 10 hours in an 11 hour work-day, and have a maximum work week of 70 hours, after which they must take a 34-hour break before continuing a job or starting a new one. With the conclusion of the NTSB’s investigation, more voices than ever are calling for national reform and Congress has paused its look into loosening restrictions like these.
The AFL-CIO Transportation Trades Department has spoken out, claiming that the high-profile accident should be a “wake-up” for federal regulators. Ed Wytkind, President of the AFL-CIO TTD, went so far as to describe the situation as a “driver fatigue crisis” in a blog post.
In this case, the driver of the truck was charged with death by auto and four counts of assault by auto. Tracy Morgan settled with Walmart earlier this year for an undisclosed amount, but the wounds he suffered and the attention this case has garnered will hopefully leave a more lasting mark. Until federal regulations prevent this sort of accident from happening, if injured, you may need help recovering from the companies that operate these too often dangerous vehicles. If you or someone you know has been involved in a big rig accident, please contact an Ohio or Kentucky office of Crandall & Pera Law for a free consultation today.