People in West Virginia have probably heard about the horrific truck accident involving comedian Tracy Morgan. The star television actor and stand-up comedian was returning home from a performance at a comedy show when a truck crashed into his van. Morgan was in critical condition following the accident, and another comedian who was riding with him was killed in the accident. In addition, other passengers were also seriously hurt.
The driver of the Wal-Mart truck that plowed into Morgan's van is now facing criminal charges for the accident. Authorities allege that the truck driver was dozing off at the time of the accident because he had not slept in 24 hours.
Truck driver fatigue is a major problem throughout the country; it accounts for roughly 40 percent of all semi-truck accidents and leads to too many fatal accidents. Currently, federal trucking regulations limit drivers to a 70-hour workweek. Moreover, they must be off work for at least 34 consecutive hours before they begin a new workweek.
However, despite accidents like the one that badly injured Morgan, a U.S. Senate committee voted to suspend these regulations in favor of allowing longer workweeks for truck drivers. The suspension of those regulations could jeopardize the safety of everyone on the country's highways.
Regardless of any specific regulation, truck companies and their drivers still have a legal obligation to operate their trucks safely. Any time a negligent driver causes an accident, victims or their families have legal rights against the driver and possibly their employer.
With driver fatigue causing so many serious accidents, like the recent one involving Tracy Morgan, many people will question the logic behind easing trucking regulations.
Source: Huffington Post, "Driver Fatigue is No Joke," Lawrence J. Hanley, June 13, 2014