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The epidemic of fatigued truck drivers on our roads

Written by Steve Gursten Posted June 25th, 2014

Trucker in fatal NJ truck accident involving Tracy Morgan hadn’t slept in over 24 hours

Tracy Morgan

You’re likely already aware of the horrible truck accident in New Jersey involving comedian Tracy Morgan. The crash left one person dead, and three critically injured.

The truck accident occurred after the driver, Kevin Roper, was driving well in excess of the hours of service, and without having slept in 24 hours.

But you’re likely not aware that sleep deprivation plays a causal role in approximately 100,000 motor vehicle accidents a year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).  Some studies have put the number as high as 40% of all crashes involving large commercial motor vehicles.

The crash involving Tracy Morgan has been in the news because of Tracy Morgan’s fame, but the issues of sleep deprivation and fatigue involved in this tragic crash and so many other preventable truck accident injuries and deaths are the real story here.

Police said Roper was driving the Walmart semi-trailer when it slammed into the back of a limo bus carrying Morgan and several friends, who were all returning from a show in Delaware. The limo bus then flipped, setting off a chain reaction which roped four other cars into the crash. When the dust settled, this was a six-vehicle accident.

Although there were initially reports that Roper had fallen asleep behind the wheel of his Walmart semi-truck, these reports have not been confirmed. What is known at this time is that Roper did not slow down nor even apply the brakes at all. Witnesses indicated that Roper attempted to swerve at the last second to avoid the crash  – but it was too late.

Walmart has placed Roper on leave following this truck accident. Roper is also facing criminal charges.

This crash highlights how critical it is to have strong regulations in place to make sure that truckers are not out there on the highways causing serious and preventable truck wrecks due to fatigued driving.

As an attorney, I lecture on fatigue and sleep deprivation in litigating truck accident cases regularly, and I’ve said time and time again, that while most truckers out there are good and follow the rules, there’s a smaller number that just don’t care and don’t believe safety rules should apply to them.

We keep the victims of this crash in our thoughts, and hope that the survivors  make a full (and fast) recovery.

Related information:

How fatigued driving affects truckers

What role should a truck company play in preventing truck driver fatigue? 

About Steve Gursten

Attorney Steven Gursten is president of the Motor Vehicle Trial Lawyers Association and past president of the American Association for Justice Trucking Litigation Group. He has been named a Michigan Lawyers Weekly "Leader in the Law" for his efforts to prevent truck accidents and promote national truck safety. Steve was also a Michigan Lawyers Weekly "Lawyer of the Year" for a record settlement in a truck accident case. He has received the top reported truck accident jury verdict and top reported truck accident settlement in Michigan for multiple years, according to published year-end compilations of all jury verdicts and personal injury settlements by Michigan Lawyers Weekly. He has been named a "Top 50 Super Lawyer," by SuperLawyers, is listed in Best Lawyers in America, and has been awarded an AV-rating by Martindale-Hubbell, which is the highest rating for legal ability and ethics. Steve speaks to lawyers throughout the country on truck accident litigation. He is a founding member of the Truck Accident Attorneys Roundtable, head of Michigan Auto Law, and has dedicated his legal career to making our roads safer.
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