Drivers

Driver Awake Over 28 Hours in Tracy Morgan Accident

November 08, 2015

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The probable cause of a highly publicized June 2014 fatal crash with a limousine carrying comedian Tracy Morgan was the truck driver’s fatigue, according to the National Transportation Safety Board. The Walmart driver who triggered the multi-vehicle pileup near Cranbury, New Jersey, was awake for more than 28 hours prior to the crash.

That fatigue, the board says, resulted in the driver's delayed response to brake to avoid traffic that was slowing and stopped for an active work zone. Another factor, the board reports, was the fact that the driver was speeding in a work zone. And contributing to the severity of the injuries was the fact that the passengers in the passenger compartment of the limo van were not using seat belts and properly adjusted head restraints.

When the crash occurred, Kevin Roper, was on hour 13 of a 14 hour shift, as documented by electronic logs -- but he had driven for 12 hours from his home in Georgia to Delaware, 800 miles away, to start his route.

“Hours-of-service rules cannot address what drivers do on their own time,” said NTSB Chairman Christopher A. Hart. “This driver had been on duty 13½ hours of a 14-hour workday, but had been awake more than 28 hours at the time of the crash. Fatigue management programs can help.”

At the time of the accident, Walmart addressed fatigue as a part of its driver training, but it did not have a structured fatigue management program in place that could have improved its ability to better monitor its drivers and educate them about the risks of fatigue, the NTSB noted.

The NTSB reiterated a 2010 recommendation to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to make fatigue management programs mandatory for all carriers.

The NTSB also released computer simulation of the crash from different angles showing the vehicles involved in the accident. Traffic had slowed ahead of the Walmart truck on the New Jersey Turnpike. The truck was traveling in the middle lane behind Morgan’s SUV, but the driver did not notice the slow traffic ahead and struck it from behind, causing the Limo to strike other vehicles and flip over.

The driver made no moves to avoid the slow down until just before impact, when he turned slightly to the left and braked but it was too late.

The accident occurred in June 2014 and the driver faces charges, including death by auto, which could carry up to a 10-year prison sentence.

Among the board's recommendations resulting from its investigation, it recommended that Walmart develop and implement a fatigue management program based on the North American Fatigue Management Program guidelines and also that it incorporate a method of conducting on going analysis of critical event report data on hard braking and stability control events.

The NTSB reiterated a number of previous recommendations, such as one to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to make fatigue management programs mandatory, and one to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration on mandating speed limiters and forward collision avoidance systems for commercial vehicles.

There were also recommendations regarding limo safety.

For an abstract of the board's findings, click here.

Comments

  1. 1. Pat [ August 12, 2015 @ 04:00AM ]

    How many hours is a firefighter on duty

  2. 2. Carlton Biggs [ August 12, 2015 @ 04:51AM ]

    I wonder how much fatigued these rule makers are when they make our rules. They have not been out here in real world it seems. But there are some truck drivers out here that are driving like idiots, I see some and this makes against the rest of us.

  3. 3. Glen [ August 12, 2015 @ 06:17AM ]

    All a sad story. Doctors work 30+ hour shifts all the time especially during residency when they are young & inexperienced, yet the government doesn't focus on them. I bet the NTSB will come up with new regs just because of this incident. Good thing that Ferro gal isn't the head of that anymore, she'd put sleep monitors on all drivers or some crazy scheme. Funny how our government loves to hate this industry.

  4. 4. Greg Stewart [ August 12, 2015 @ 06:28AM ]

    All one has to do is look at Wal-Mart's CSA scores compared to carriers of like size and you quickly realize that they possess a culture of safety and compliance. It is not a coincidence that they employ some of the finest professional drivers in America. It is unfortunate that Mr. Roper's desire to be part of this elite fraternity compelled him to commute 800 miles to start his day.

  5. 5. Matt Eberle [ August 12, 2015 @ 10:35AM ]

    Maybe if truck drivers were payed more they would not to commute 800 miles to work. People commute two to three hours each way to get to there job in the Seattle area because wages are so low. I hope this a wake up call

  6. 6. MC [ August 13, 2015 @ 02:02PM ]

    A 2-3 hour commute is fine, but 12 hour commute to get to a job with a 14 hour shift? That's just asinine. The blame falls on both the driver and the company for that fail. The company shouldn't be hiring employees from so far away, or requiring them to travel so far to pick up their truck. The driver, having known the distance to work and the length of his upcoming shift, maybe should have traveled to work several hours earlier and stayed the night, or at least have gotten a few hours sleep before the shift. People don't think and others suffer for it.

  7. 7. fordwheeler [ August 14, 2015 @ 03:20AM ]

    This is why I always tell new drivers. "If you aren't comfortable, tired, or otherwise. Don't do it. This is your license on the line not the companies. You are the one responsible." This driver knew he wouldn't be able to get through his shift and still got behind the wheel. I don't get it. If I am tired. I don't drive. Period. I can make up the money down the road. No big deal. This driver is at fault here. No question on that. The question still arises why did he drive so far to start his shift? I know I wouldn't drive 800 miles to start my shift. Oh hell no!

  8. 8. Tyner Transport [ August 14, 2015 @ 03:32AM ]

    It's sad that this happened when it was 100% unavoidable. As a professional truck driver the driver who caused this accident knew deep down that he shouldn't have been behind the wheel of that truck after being up for so long. It is our responsibility as professional drivers that when coming off home time or a reset that you are properly rested before coming on duty. Accidents like this are why our industry is micromanaged.

  9. 9. Chuck [ August 14, 2015 @ 04:47AM ]

    800 mile commute !!!
    Are you freaking serious Wal-Mart !!

    The wages in the trucking industry are so horrendous this man drove 800 miles just to work a better paying job. FMCSA & US Govt. FAIL !!!

    I wonder what his hourly pay worked out to be after a 800 mile commute? $2hr?

  10. 10. Swohawk [ August 14, 2015 @ 05:45AM ]

    Did not have a "a structured fatigue management program." That says it all about the decline of our work culture. To need a "program" to "manage" how and why people get fatigued and how to avoid it... [Heavy sigh] I get tired just thinking about it.

  11. 11. Deke [ August 14, 2015 @ 06:23AM ]

    Instead of fatigue management programs, speed limiters, and such, how about we raise pay, and driver treatment to a level that lets us not hire idiots.

  12. 12. wes [ August 14, 2015 @ 09:17AM ]

    I applied for Wal-Mart I live 50 miles from a DC. but they wanted me to work out of one 346 miles away even though the other one was hiring didn't make any sense so I turned down the job but I talked to a lot of Wal-Mart drivers that have to commute 300-400 miles to and from work even though theirs one closer to their house.

  13. 13. David [ August 14, 2015 @ 02:04PM ]

    As a retired walmart driver I can say that getting a full time driving job anywhere in the warm weather region for a new hire is impossible. They start as flex drivers and slip seat.If you want a somewhat full time job, you have to go north. Then hope to transfer to a position closer to home after doing a year. This driver is a idiot and should have got a local motel room before starting his workweek.

  14. 14. BASEBALLbat [ August 14, 2015 @ 05:04PM ]

    TRUCKING COMPANY WANTED!

    Long miles, good pay, good treatment, and brains a must. Will not except bad attitudes, frequent swaps, or incompetence. Must have safe equipment.

    Really though, with all that money moving around, how hard is it to get this?
    Sorry Mr. Morgan. This is the result of a punching bag getting knocked off the chain.

  15. 15. Marius [ September 04, 2015 @ 01:13AM ]

    They are looking just for a scapegoat. The truck driver is innocent. One time, I was driving being relaxed and almost had the same situation. At last I was manage to stop. It was not seen what is going on, later I saw that there is traffic jam. Trucks or cars should not stop on a highway without notification. In case they should use flashers to inform that there is some peril.

  16. 16. Marius ONCE MORE [ September 04, 2015 @ 01:36AM ]

    If I remember well, probably there is a speed limitation for example below 40 miles vehicles should not be driving on a highway. The vehicles violated this law and this was the result. We even may got a ticket for driving to slow on a highway. If a vehicle stops a driver is obligated to put warning triangle on a highway to warn other drivers or use flashers before this. Did they warn the truck driver?

  17. 17. tom [ December 30, 2015 @ 07:53AM ]

    Marius you're an idiot they were'nt stopped on the highway they were slowed down due to road work if the driver was not fatigued he would've been paying attention and noticed the slow traffic. How are you going to warn traffic coming from behind that the traffic ahead is slow. If you're driving any vehicle you must be alert and aware of your surroundings at all times. Peace be with you and be careful out there!!

  18. 18. tom [ December 30, 2015 @ 07:54AM ]

    Marius you sound like an idiot

 

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