When celebrities are involved in motor vehicle accidents, the media pays more attention. This unfortunate fact is exemplified by the recent horrific accident in which comic Tracy Morgan were seriously injured in a truck crash on the New Jersey Turnpike this past weekend. One person died in the accident, and Tracy Morgan and his assistant were critically injured. Two others in the luxury van were hurt, but not as badly. The media is all over this story, shining a spotlight on a variety of factors that are common in truck accidents.
Morgan and five others were in the van en route to New York after performing in Delaware when the vehicle was hit by a Wal-Mart truck driven by a Georgia truck driver. According to police reports, the driver had fallen asleep. The result: A chain reaction when he woke up and swerved to avoid traffic. He hit the van, which then overturned and hit another tractor-trailer. Other vehicles then became trapped in the pileup that ensued.
Local and state police as well as the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) are investigating the crash. The truck driver has been charged with one count of death by auto and four other counts of assault by auto, according to the Daily News.
Although more stringent state and federal regulations have reduced the number of truck accidents caused by fatigued drivers over the years, they continue to represent between one and three percent of truck crash fatalities, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). It has been shown the drivers who operate for more than eight hours without a break are far more likely to be involved in accidents than those who take required breaks.
Even though the percentage of accidents attributed to fatigued drivers is relatively small, it is not certain how driver fatigue contributes to trucking accidents that may be listed as being caused by something else such as equipment failure or poor road conditions. The ability of a driver to respond to changing conditions on the road or with a truck’s equipment is almost certainly hampered by fatigue. This is apparently what happened in the New Jersey accident in which the famed comedian was seriously injured.
Source: Daily News, “Tracy Morgan critically injured in New Jersey crash allegedly caused by truck driver now charged with death by auto,” Jun. 8, 2014.