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NTSB: Trucker in Tracy Morgan Crash Was Speeding

June 19, 2014

By Evan Lockridge

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NTSB investigators documented the damage to the vehicles using 3D laser scanning technology. This is a scan of the Mercedes‑Benz limo van involved in the crash.
NTSB investigators documented the damage to the vehicles using 3D laser scanning technology. This is a scan of the Mercedes‑Benz limo van involved in the crash.
The National Transportation Safety Board has released its preliminary report of its investigation into the June 7 truck crash that severely injured celebrity Tracy Morgan, showing the truck driver was traveling well beyond the posted speed limit and appeared to be within legal hours of service.

“A preliminary review of the data showed that the Peterbilt combination vehicle was traveling at 65 mph for the 60 seconds preceding the collision with the Mercedes-Benz limo van,” the report said. “About 0.4 mile south of the crash location, speed limit signs were posted that reduced the speed from 55 mph to 45 mph.”

NTSB said according to electronic driver log information on the truck, driver Kevin Roper had logged 9 hours 37 minutes of driving time when the crash occurred, shortly before 1 a.m. local time, while traveling north on the New Jersey Turnpike near Cranbury.

“With respect to the maximum 14-hour consecutive duty period for commercial motor vehicle drivers, the driver had logged 13 hours 32 minutes at the time of the collision,” the report said. “NTSB investigators are comparing the log information with supporting documentation.”

NTSB 3D scan of the Walmart truck involved in the crash.
NTSB 3D scan of the Walmart truck involved in the crash.

NTSB investigators are also compiling and analyzing information to determine the activities of the truck driver and the amount of rest he received in the hours and days preceding the crash. In charging Roper, police claim he had not slept in more than 24 hours before the crash, but they have yet to publicly say how they came to that conclusion.

NTSB also determined as the Walmart truck approached milepost 71.4, traffic had slowed due to construction work ahead on the turnpike. It then struck the rear of a 2012 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter limo van, occupied by a driver and six passengers, including Morgan, and James McNair, who was the only person killed.

“The two vehicles moved forward and were involved in secondary impacts with other vehicles that were slowed in the traffic queue. The limo van rolled over and came to rest on its left side, facing east, across the center and right lanes,” said NTSB. “As a result of the collision, one passenger in the Mercedes‑Benz limo van was fatally injured and four other van occupants [including Morgan] were transported to the hospital with injuries of various severities”.

Last week Roper pleaded not guilty to one count of vehicular homicide and four counts of assault by auto. He remains free on $50,000 bail, while his next court appearance has not been scheduled.

Morgan remains hospitalized following the crash and serious injuries he received, but his condition was upgraded this week to fair. Others that were injured have since been treated and released from the hospital.

The crash has led to a national debate about a recent Congressional move just before the crash to change truck driver hours of service regulations, specifically the 34-hour restart provision, with Capitol Hill watchers saying such an attempt now faces a more difficult future. The case also led to a media frenzy, with some claiming the trucking industry was being vilified due to Morgan’s celebrity.

Comments

  1. 1. fred seil [ June 19, 2014 @ 10:14AM ]

    its plain as day what happened here, he was speeding because he was almost at his 14 limit. he had to get where he was going before he ran out of clock time. i dont know far he was going but he only had 28 minutes to get there or be in violation. i blame electronic logs for all the insanity in this business anymore. these guys with eletronic logs fly thru the truckstops all the time because there so worried about getting all there work done in 14 hrs. i have been driving 30 plus years with a excellent safety record ,i promise you the day i am forced to run elds .I WILL SELL MY TRUCK AND TRAILER AND GET OUT!

  2. 2. Kevin [ June 19, 2014 @ 10:14AM ]

    If you were going to argue about the hours of service rules, was the driver trying to complet his run before time ran out? Did Walmart have his schedule set to tight as to maximize and us every minute allowd by law. How many people sometimes work 15-30 min longer in a day to finish what there employer expected of them. The rules will never Be prefect!

  3. 3. Cliff Downing [ June 19, 2014 @ 10:19AM ]

    No, it is not plain as day. We do not know how far he was intending to run. I operate below the speed limit in most pleas, am on e-logs, and never have to rush because I know what I am doing and schedule the runs to be feasible. the driver in the Morgan crash was speeding, probably tailgating, and not focusing on the task at hand. That is what is plain as day. In over 30 years, I have seen this scenario play out multiple times, and this was before e-logs even became a blip on the radar. It is purely driver error and he should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

  4. 4. joe [ June 19, 2014 @ 10:22AM ]

    its simple DRIVER ERROR now the rest will be watched because 1
    did screw up.

  5. 5. Lee Lenard [ June 19, 2014 @ 10:22AM ]

    YES YES YES.....electronic logs cause this! I would bet my paycheck you are right....only a few minutes left and had to speed to try get to a stopping point before a tick-down....I did it just last night trying to get to a location for "that 30 minute break". stories are shared every day within our driver pool of some of the unsafe, wild and crazy things they have to do to meet the electronic log requirement........most dangerous thing ever put on a truck!

  6. 6. Ruben Madrid [ June 19, 2014 @ 10:22AM ]

    You all can see that is not speed governors or e logs that control accidents; is always the person behind the wheel. If we rest when we need it and be safe, isn't that the key.

  7. 7. hanson [ June 19, 2014 @ 10:25AM ]

    I known when I am tired and it might be an hour after I start or 14 hours. Let me decide not the government. Get rid of the 14 hour and 34 hour restart there are enough company's looking for drivers so if you don't like what you are doing go someplace else

  8. 8. Bill Hood [ June 19, 2014 @ 10:54AM ]

    Last time I check the 14-hours on elogs are the same as 14-hours on paper logs. What you are saying is that because of being on elogs he would not have been able to go back and falsify his logs. Elogs or paper he would have been in violation of HOS.

    The problem with all the arguments around elogs make drivers unsafe because of examples like this is that you are giving ammunition to the true believers. They believe these rules make our roads safer and that drivers on paper logs are cheating. So we need elogs.

    Regardless of how the HOS are logged, if it turns out the driver was rushed to arrive before his 14-hours came up, then the issue is a driver planning and/or company dispatch issue.

  9. 9. fred seil [ June 19, 2014 @ 11:00AM ]

    i sleep when tired drive when im awake . i dont need the government telling me when im either.

  10. 10. Joe Bartlinski [ June 19, 2014 @ 11:25AM ]

    I find it hard to swallow that a trucking publication would stoop to the same tactics that general media uses. Why is Tracy Morgan's name mentioned five times. Everyone is well aware of who the celebrity was that was injured thus making this a national event. Can anyone name the driver or any other occupants? I think not.

  11. 11. Steve [ June 19, 2014 @ 11:33AM ]

    How many car drivers rear end others per day ? nothing runs smooth every day. these things only take a few seconds to unfold, I'd like to see more collision avoidance technology, not log book technology. step back a few feet and look at the options and solutions to help avoid these things from unfolding. maybe if the truck sensed it and hit the brakes, it would be like a slap in the chops and he would have slowed in time

  12. 12. Soren Miller [ June 19, 2014 @ 11:42AM ]

    So the driver was going over the speed limit I'm sure walmart trucks probably tach out at 65.Im on 95 every week, those posted speeds are a joke . In most places if you run 45 on 95 you'd get run over . There is little enforcement on that road. I wonder how fast that limo was going b4 he came to a stop. I want to see no one get hurt on the Big Road. My question would be did that limo come around the Walmart driver b4 he hit the brakes. Did he leave any room for the truck driver to stop? How many times to truck drivers deal with that? It's endless! Drivers need to Stand Up For Each Other . No Rights that's what truck Drivers Have

  13. 13. Steve Motyl [ June 19, 2014 @ 12:48PM ]

    I wonder if those in the limo had been wearing their seatbelts,if they would've been injured. Accidents are always human error. So let's not error anymore.

  14. 14. sherm [ June 19, 2014 @ 01:30PM ]

    If the driver rear ended someone he was at fault, clear and simple.Does anybody remember how to judge safe following distances and monitor traffic flow and conditions? Pushed by an electronic log, no just poor time management.

  15. 15. Amsel [ June 19, 2014 @ 01:54PM ]

    Can't blame the e logs when people don't follow or want to follow the diving regulations. These devices try to keep people on the level.

  16. 16. Dick Gaib [ June 19, 2014 @ 02:03PM ]

    The first report I read, stated that he had been awake, for 24, hours, as I recall because he had came from Georgia if I recall correctly. It seemed to allude that, after he got to work, he started his shift. If that's the truth, he has no defense in any way. After 3 million safe miles, I am, after using e logs, both in support, and not in several ways. The split sleep bunk times, did have merit, ,however the 34 hr. weekend start time, is a completely, stupid idea. What Is to me a better idea, to be fare to all, is the use of dash,mounted camera's. I would show, the cut off caused accidents, from others actions. Yes, it is also, a tattle tale on truck drivers actions. The best thing, to help the drivers, would be to route us over approved truck routes, and around cities, using paid miles, on these true miles traveled. As, I look at this van that the limo driver was driving, it looks, like maybe the passengers, would have been, protected, if they were wearing seat belts.
    Nothing has been said as to that. We have no report about whoever was killed, at all. I guess they were not important?

  17. 17. B [ June 19, 2014 @ 07:13PM ]

    It all starts with the owners of trucking companies then the dispatchers. If they want to put a little effort into their jobs drivers could run legal and get rest, but the driver has to stand up for them self and know if they can get there legal and tell the company no if it can't be done. Cars speed all the time when laws are not enforced everyone is at fault. How many people work all day then drive all night to the vacation spot is this any different not safe we just look past it but the guy with a CDL should know better but when this or someone cross the center line and hits a truck it's the driver that shouldn't be there.

  18. 18. Steve Motyl [ June 20, 2014 @ 05:28AM ]

    The investigation seems a little one sided to me. What about the limo driver ? How long was he awake ? What about the occupants in the limo who were breaking the law by Not wearing their seat belts ? I like Tracy Morgan and don't care for Walmart,but fair is fair.

  19. 19. Jeff [ June 20, 2014 @ 07:10AM ]

    Regardless of what is in place for safety it all comes down to the driver. If he was tired then he should have taken himself off the road. I will bet that he was behind the gun on this load from the start. It will be interesting to note what he was doing before he started his shift and why if any reason the comment of him being awake for over a 24hr period. From the time the FMCSA started the listening sessions on HOS it was told to them over and over again that drivers need the flexibility to take themselves off the road if tired and not be punished by allowing the 14hr clock to continue. Carriers need to respect that of a driver and not punish them as well. Carriers also need to punish those drivers that they know do not get rested when they are suppose too, like hanging out in the truck stop playing games or watching movies or what have you. However forcing drivers to work 14 and drive 11 hours to the minute is not safe if the driver needs more rest during the shift.

  20. 20. John [ June 20, 2014 @ 09:00AM ]

    Really? Everyone quick to blame the driver., the company, the dispatchers how about the pinheads who implemented this 14 hour rule?
    Already this guy was doomed when he was 30 miles from his final with only 28 minutes left to drive. He probably wanted to stop at a rest stop for coffee or maybe a half hour nap but the LAW wouldn't allow that. After 24 years as a owner operator I gave up trucking, my truck 3 trailers authority all due to that stupid, unsafe, controlling 13 hour rule.
    Besides who cares what the guy did before he went to work the government want to control what he does before he goes to work as well? As long as he is intoxicated when steps into that truck to go to work who cares if he just shingled his roof at home or spent the day at the amusement park with hi family. Im sure he passed a tox screen at the scene.

  21. 21. John [ June 20, 2014 @ 09:58AM ]

    Clif Downing arnt you a good little FN doobie

  22. 22. haller [ June 21, 2014 @ 08:15AM ]

    It's not the Tracy Morgan crash,, it's the Walmart Crash ! !

    By the way,, were drugs found in the Tracy Morgan Van ? ?

  23. 23. tom j [ June 21, 2014 @ 04:45PM ]

    THINGS WE DON'T KNOW YET.

    HOW FAST WAS ALL THE OTHER TRAFFIC GOING AT THIS TIME?

    DID SOME ONE CUT SOMEONE OFF UP FRONT?

    DO WE KNOW THAT THE ELOG WAS INSTALED AND CALIBRATED RIGHT?

    IF THIS DRIVER IS BEING CONVICTED BY ELOG THAT NO ONE KNOWS IS 100% RIGHT WE ARE ALL IN TROUBLE.

  24. 24. Carlton Biggs [ July 02, 2014 @ 03:25PM ]

    No. 12 You are exactly right and I totally agree.

 

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