Early Saturday morning on June 7 th in Cranbury Township, New Jersey, a large tractor-trailer rear-ended a limo bus, killing one victim and injuring comedian Tracy Morgan and three others. According to authorities, the incident occurred after the driver of a Walmart truck failed to slow for traffic and swerved in an attempt to avoid a collision. Soon after the incident, it was discovered that the truck driver had not slept in more than 24 hours.
Authorities investigating the incident have charged the 35-year-old truck driver with vehicular homicide and three counts of assault by auto. Court documents noted that during the time he was driving, he had not slept in over 24 hours – a criminal violation in New Jersey.
A preliminary report from the National Transportation Safety Board also states that the driver had been traveling at 65 mph in a 45 mph zone 60 seconds prior to the crash. Walmart spokespersons stated that the company will investigate the accident, but that it believes its employee was operating within federal hours-of-service rules.
Hours-of-service (HOS) rules are a set of regulations enforced by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration ( FMCSA), the federal agency that oversees the interstate trucking industry. HOS regulations are designed to prevent tired drivers from getting behind the wheel of large trucks by limiting the amount of hours a driver can be on duty.
HOS rules that apply to commercial drivers include:
- 11-Hour Driving Limit – truck drivers may drive up to 11 hours after 10 consecutive hours off duty.
- 14-Hour Limit – truck drivers may not drive beyond their 14 th consecutive hour on duty.
These regulations are in place because tired drivers pose serious risks to others on the road, especially when they are behind the wheel of a large tractor-trailer. In fact, several studies have found that driving tired can be just as dangerous as driving drunk, according to DrowsyDriving.org. This is because lack of sleep can slow reaction time, decrease awareness, impair judgment, and increase the risk of crashing.
At George Sink, P.A. Injury Lawyers our condolences go out to the families affected by this tragedy, as we have worked personally with many victims and families who've been involved in serious truck accidents. We believe that anyone harmed in a car wreck or tractor-trailer accident that was not their fault has the right to be compensated for their damages, and we're available to help any victim or family who has been affected by a similar tragedy.