Is it time to enhance rules and come down harder on tired trucking?
A horrendous rear-end crash resulted in a fatal pileup of six vehicles in New Jersey on June 7th, killing one person and critically injuring several others. Actor and comedian Tracy Morgan, formerly of 30 Rock and Saturday Night Live, is currently listed in critical condition in the hospital with a broken leg, broken nose and several other serious injuries.
As Fort Myers personal injury attorneys, Goldberg, Racila, D'Alessandro & Noone have represented many people and their families who have been victimized by the unsafe habits of long distance truck drivers. These big rig behemoths, often due to a groggy, sleep-deprived driver, are involved in crashes resulting in about 130,000 injuries annually. Also, statistics show that approximately 98 percent of all semi-tractor trailer accidents result in at least one fatality.
Morgan and a group of friends and fellow performers were returning from a gig in Delaware, and the limo bus in which they were travelling was struck from behind by a Wal-Mart big rig tractor trailer. The truck's driver, Kevin Roper of Georgia, has been charged with death by auto and four counts of assault by auto.
ABC News has reported that Roper may have been dozing off behind the wheel, but officials investigating the accident have not released any details corroborating that report.
In a shocking and sad twist of irony, this tragic big rig crash comes just days after the Senate Appropriations Committee considered action to actually weaken the rules by which long-haul truck drivers would be required to rest between driving shifts. Recent federal regulations enacted last summer were implemented in an effort to reduce driver fatigue, and the number of accidents involving large trucks on US highways.
This horrific crash will rightly bring renewed attention to a recent move by Maine Republican Senator Susan Collins. She recently attempted to introduce an amendment to roll back DOT requirements regarding how much rest or time off truckers are to take before beginning their next trip or work schedule. Collins' proposed amendment was meant to delay certain parts of the driver fatigue rules for a period of one year, forcing the Department of Transportation to restudy the impact of the legislation on the trucking industry.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration predicts that the new proposed truck driver scheduling laws would result in approximately 1,400 fewer big rig crashes annually. But apparently, other groups like the American Trucking Association and the Auto Haulers Association of America, are among those that feel the new rest restrictions would impair the drivers' ability to make a living, and impose undue economic hardships on a host of industries that rely on long-distance trucking transportation.
In a letter to the Senate Appropriations Committee, those groups, among other transportation and business organizations, said, “The purpose of this letter is to communicate our support for both the proposed Commercial Motor Vehicle Driver Restart Study and a one-year suspension of two unjustified restrictions on the use of the hours of service restart provision by professional drivers”.
When it comes to motor vehicle crashes, few have such devastating effects as those involving large trucks, noted personal injury lawyer Michael Noone. “You can just imagine the carnage of a huge semi tractor trailer rear-ending a much smaller car at a high rate of speed”, said Noone. “And once we get involved in researching who was responsible for causing the crash, we often find that the driver was on the road without the benefit of adequate rest between trips”.
We hope that Tracy Morgan recovers fully from his injuries and will continue his comedic career. We also hope that our country's legislators act responsibly to ensure these types of trucking accidents are reduced in the future. Tired truckers are a huge danger on this country's roads.