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Deadly Trucking Accident Highlights Need for Review of Trucking Regulations

by  on  Accident Attorney

On June 7, 2014, the limousine carrying Tracy Morgan and his entourage on the New Jersey turnpike was slammed into by a freight truck operated on behalf of Walmart. The truck was traveling 65 mph in a 45 mph speed zone immediately before the accident.  One person was killed, four injured, and Tracy Morgan has been hospitalized since the crash. The driver of the freight truck, Kevin Roper, told police that he had been awake for 24 hours at the time of the crash.  He was charged with death by auto, and four counts of assault by auto.

Tracy Morgan’s accident has drawn a lot of attention because of his celebrity status. Unfortunately, as your Denver accident attorney knows, truck accidents like Morgan’s are all too common.  According to the National Traffic Safety Board, 330,000 large truck crashes occurred in 2012 and resulted in 4,000 fatalities and 104,000 injuries. Part of the reason for so many accidents is that there are more trucks on American roads now than ever before: 70% of American goods are transported by truck.  The industry is now a 650 billion dollar industry constituting 5% of the United States’ Gross Domestic Product. 

In fact, it is because of the enormous amount of goods being transported by truck every day that an amendment to loosen the regulations that apply to the industry was recently approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee. The proposed new regulations would change existing rules on driver scheduling. The requirement that drivers take breaks between 1—5 am on consecutive nights before they can work again would be eliminated, as well as the restriction on drivers’ ability to declare they are starting a new work week, which is key to how many hours they are allowed to work since work hours are tied to the workweek. The workweek itself would change, too, if the amendment passes; instead of limiting truckers to 70 hours, they would be allowed to work up to 82 hours in a week. The current regulations allowing truckers to drive 11 hours per day and to be on the clock 14 hours a day would remain unchanged.

Your Denver accident attorney notes that due to Morgan’s high profile truck accident, many in Washington are taking a closer look at trucking regulations and their impact on driver safety.  As a result, the proposed amendment may not make it through the full Senate.  Both the Federal Motor Carrying Safety Administration (FMCSA) and the Obama Administration already opposed the amendment. Since Morgan’s accident, New Jersey Senators Cory Booker and Robert Menendez are sponsoring legislation to repeal the amendment, and New York Senator Charles Schumer has asked the Department of Transportation to expedite the requirement that companies and drivers use electronic logging devices to accurately log hours driven, instead of recording hours manually as is the current practice. The fact the driver who hit Morgan’s limousine reported being awake for 24 hours has led to heightened scrutiny on truck driver fatigue and the risks it poses for everyone on the road.

If you have been involved in an accident with a truck, it may be due to a truck driver not complying with scheduling rules and/or driving without proper rest. Contact your Denver accident attorney at Levine Law about your legal rights for damages to your vehicle and/or compensation for any injuries suffered as a result of the accident.