In June, Tracy Morgan made news, not for his comedy tour or his work on “30 Rock” or “Saturday Night Live,” but for the injuries he sustained during a serious car accident caused by a semi truck driver.
According to ABC News, police believe that the truck driver had fallen asleep at the wheel.
New Jersey State Police Sgt. First Class Gregory Williams said, “Driver failed to observe slow-moving traffic ahead. He observed at the last minute—just prior to impact—the limo bus carrying Morgan and his party.”
The truck hit the limo bus and another vehicle. The limo bus then spun around and hit another vehicle, which hit two other vehicles in turn. The six-car accident resulted in injuries to Morgan and three other people on the bus. Morgan and his assistant were both critically injured. James McNair, a comedy writer for Morgan, was killed.
The driver of the truck was charged with one count of death by auto and four counts of assault by auto.
The Journal News reports that in mid July, Morgan was released from a rehabilitation facility to continue his recovery (he suffered both a broken leg and broken ribs) at home through an outpatient program.
Soon after, Morgan’s lawyers filed a lawsuit against Wal-Mart. The suit claimed that Wal-Mart was negligent. It alleged that the company should have known that the driver had been awake for more than 24 hours and that his commute was “unreasonable” (700 miles from his home in Georgia to work in Delaware). The other two injured in the accident are also named in the lawsuit.
Driving while tired is nearly as dangerous as driving drunk. The CDC says that sleepiness affects a driver’s concentration and decision-making ability and slows his or her reaction time. The CDC also says that commercial drivers are among the people more likely to drive while tired. Because their livelihood often depends on their ability to drive a certain number of miles or arrive at their destination at a certain time, there is a hazardous incentive for commercial drivers to carry on driving even while tired.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has set standards to determine the number of hours that commercial drivers can be on the road. Drivers are only allowed behind the wheel for 11 hours, and they must take a 30-minute break in the first 8 hours of driving. After their shift, they must then be off duty for 10 consecutive hours. They may only work 60 hours in seven consecutive days (or 70 hours in eight consecutive days.) These important standards were put into place to reduce the number of accidents, injuries, and fatalities caused by drowsy driving.
If Wal-Mart knew, or had reason to know, that its employee was working more than the federally mandated maximum hours, the company may be found liable for the accident.
When on the road with a large truck, it’s important to remain vigilant. These trucks can do serious damage—both to your health and property—because of their size and weight. If you see a truck drifting between lanes or hitting a rumble strip, assume that the driver is either drowsy or inattentive (better safe than sorry). Get out of the way as soon as possible to reduce your chances of getting into a truck accident.
Photo Credit: <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/13172875@N08/5310266296/”>Aaron Escobar</a> via <a href=”http://compfight.com”>Compfight</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>cc</a>