Suspected truck driver fatigue seriously injures Tracy Morgan
The dangers of driving while intoxicated or of texting while driving are reported on a daily basis, and for good reason. However, another big hazard to Missouri and Illinois motorists and their passengers is that of driver fatigue. This is a particularly dangerous situation when the drivers who are fatigued are those behind the wheels of big rigs. Tractor-trailers are extremely large and can cause devastating, often fatal, injuries in the event of serious truck accidents. One recent high-profile case involving comedian Tracy Morgan illustrates just how tragic suspected truck driver fatigue can be.
The truck accident happened in the Northeast when the driver of a Wal-Mart semi plowed into the rear of the comedian’s Mercedes limo bus. The
force of the collision fatally injured 62-year-old comedian James McNair, AKA Jimmy Mack. Additionally, 45-year-old Tracy Morgan, the well-known celebrity who used to appear on “Saturday Night Live” and “30 Rock,” suffered critical injuries in the crash. At last report, Morgan remained hospitalized with several broken bones that had initially made him unresponsive. A spokesman did indicate a surgery to repair Morgan’s broken leg resulted in him becoming “more responsive,” although he is expected to require hospitalization for several more weeks.
Authorities have charged the 35-year-old truck driver with causing death by auto, in addition to multiple counts of assault by auto. They appear to believe that driver fatigue played a role in the fatal truck accident. According to official charging documents, the truck driver had not slept in at least 24 hours before the collision.
If true, this flies in the face of federal regulations that govern the behavior that commercial truck drivers and motor carriers must follow. FMCSR § 392.3 specifically mandates that:
No driver shall operate a commercial motor vehicle and a motor carrier shall not require or permit a driver to operate a commercial motor vehicle while the driver’s ability or alertness is so impaired or so likely to become impaired through fatigue, illness or any other cause as to make it unsafe for him/her to begin or continue to operate the commercial motor vehicle.
Furthermore, truck drivers must maintain a written log of their duty status over a 24-hour time period. Commercial drivers are forbidden to driver any longer than 11 hours after a consecutive off-duty period of 10 hours. Drivers for motor carriers which utilize commercial vehicles seven days a week may not drive more than 70 hours of being on-duty over a consecutive 8-day period.
Drivers must maintain their duty status log for at least seven days, and their employing motor carrier is required to keep such logs for at least six months. The tragic truth of the matter is that many truck drivers are incentivized to deliver cargo within certain (often unrealistic) time limits, regardless of the requirements stipulated by federal and state guidelines. In some cases, keeping their jobs may require them to fulfill these unrealistic, often dangerous time requirements.
Some drivers actually falsify their duty status logs in an effort to appear that they are following commercial vehicle laws when they are not. In situations like this, not only the truck drivers may be held liable, but their employers could be as well. Motor carriers have a duty to verify the logs that their drivers are turning in by utilizing methods such as examining fuel receipts for accuracy and to maintain proper control of driving time when drivers are on the road.
Those Missouri and Illinois residents who have been seriously injured or lost loved ones in truck accidents like the one involving Tracy Morgan may find themselves not just physically hurting, but also emotionally grieving and financially struggling. Personal injury laws provide a route to financial restitution for those who have been injured due to truck driver fatigue. My St. Louis personal injury law firm has experience in pursuing such restitution through the filing of lawsuits in a civil court of law. Please contact us as soon as possible by dialing 1-888-586-7041, toll-free, to determine whether we may be able to help you obtain the financial damages that you deserve.
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Source Article: Articles titled “Trucker reportedly sleep-deprived Comedian said to be responsive” and “St. Louis, Missouri, Car Accident Attorney Uncovering Truck Driver Fatigue.”