Driver fatigue accounts for some 35-40 percent of all commercial truck accidents. Intensive media coverage of the crash that killed one and sent comedian Tracy Morgan and three others to the hospital has again placed the spotlight on the ongoing issue of fatigued drivers behind the wheels of commercial trucks on America’s Highways. As Morgan, known for his standup comedy and his role on NBC’s 30 Rock TV series, remained in critical condition, truck driver Kevin Roper pleaded not guilty at his arraignment Wednesday in New Jersey’s Middlesex County Superior Court.
The news came amid allegations that Roper, a truck driver for Bentonville, AR-based Walmart, had not slept for some 24 hours at the time his truck plowed into the bus carrying Morgan and four others on the New Jersey Turnpike, killing comedian James McNair. Unfortunately, it’s not an uncommon scenario. Statistics show driver fatigue accounts for some 35-40 percent of all commercial truck accidents. Long hours, tight deadlines and rigorous schedules, along with the monotony of an hours-long drive all contribute to driver exhaustion. Because truck driver salaries are not considered particularly high, many try to work as much as possible, often clocking in 18 hours or more in a single day.
Though federal laws limit drives to 11 consecutive hours and mandate 10-hour breaks between driving shifts, many less scrupulous companies will offer drivers extra money to pull additional shifts, and cash-strapped drivers accept, often falsifying their log books. This makes for roads full of exhausted drivers behind the wheels of trucks that can hit 100,000 pounds. Reduced physical and mental capacity, and the potential to actually doze off while driving, puts everyone in danger. Commercial truck accidents can be devastating. The sheer weight and speed of an 18-wheeler traveling at speeds of 70 mph or more mean severe life-long injuries or even death for those in truck-involved crashes. When this happens, multiple parties may be held liable, including the driver, employer and truck owner.
If you or someone you love is injured in an accident involving a commercial truck, get medical treatment immediately. Then, contact an experienced truck accident attorney with Jacksonville-based Harrell and Harrell at 800-251-1111 or via our online contact form.