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
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.