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NTSB Cites Truck Driver Fatigue as Cause of Tracy Morgan Crash

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recently announced the findings of its investigation into the deadly crash that seriously injured actor Tracy Morgan. According to the report, the Wal-Mart truck driver who caused the crash had not slept in more than 28 hours.

As we have previously discussed on this San Diego Injury Blog, Morgan suffered a traumatic brain injury when a tractor-trailer slammed into the limousine in which he was riding. Fellow comedian James McNair was killed in the crash. Earlier this year, Morgan settled his personal injury suit against Wal-Mart for an undisclosed amount.

According to the NTSB, the Wal-Mart truck driver responsible for the collision was so fatigued that he did not realize that traffic on the highway had slowed until it was too late. As reported by The New York Times, Kevin Roper, who also faces criminal charges, had been awake for more than 28 hours at the time of the accident. He drove 800 miles overnight prior to reaching the Wal-Mart distribution center and had only one hour left of driving eligibility under federal hours-of-service regulations when he started his delivery route.

The NTSB also noted that the slow response of emergency responders exacerbated the situation, noting that they initially “failed to recognize how serious the situation was and how many severely injured occupants” were in the vehicle. The NTSB also noted that the only means of exiting the limo had become inoperable in the crash, which could have made the accident even more deadly if a fire had occurred.

In light of their findings, the NTSB investigators called on companies like Wal-Mart to take steps to address drowsy driving, such as training dispatchers, drivers and their families on the risks of fatigue. They also recommended that emergency medical workers working on the New Jersey Turnpike receive additional training, and that limo passengers receive safety briefings prior to each trip.

Unfortunately, Tracy Morgan is not alone. According to the latest statistics, more than 4,000 people are killed and nearly 100,000 are injured annually in collisions involving large trucks. Since 2009, the number of fatalities resulting from traffic crashes involving large trucks has increased 16 percent, and injuries have spiked 40 percent.

Fatigue is also not uncommon among truck drivers, who often drive for long shifts with minimal rest. While Roper may not have literally fallen asleep at the wheel, lack of sleep can still impair driving skills, including reaction times and decision-making abilities. In fact, studies have found that cognitive impairment after 24 hours without sleep is akin to a blood alcohol level of 0.10 percent, which exceeds legal limits.

If you or someone you love has been seriously injured in a San Diego motor vehicle accident, don’t hesitate tocontacta San Diego personal injury attorney at the Law Offices of Robert Vaage for a free consultation.