One person was killed, and comedian Tracy Morgan was severely injured in June 2014 when a semi-tractor trailer on the New Jersey Turnpike struck the limousine van they were traveling in. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigators later learned that the truck driver behind the wheel of the semi had been awake for 28 hours when he crashed. According to experts, the truck driver was as impaired as he would have been with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.10%.
A persistent problem
Drowsy driving always poses a threat to other road users, but it is especially dangerous when a fatigued individual is behind the wheel of a vehicle weighing as much as 40 tons. Fatigue is a persistent problem for truck drivers because the nature of the work makes scheduling rest periods difficult. Driving a truck can be extremely monotonous, the dining options are often unhealthy, and drivers are under pressure to meet deadlines, which all contribute to fatigue.
Hours of service regulations
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has regulations that mandate rest at certain intervals and place strict limits on how long truck drivers can spend on the road, and commercial vehicles have electronic logging devices that monitor shifts and journeys. However, these devices do not always tell the whole story. The truck driver involved in the Tracy Morgan accident had an hour left on his 14-hour shift when he crashed, but he drove for 12 hours in his personal vehicle before starting work.
Truck accident lawsuits
When their clients have suffered injuries in motor vehicle accidents that fatigued truck drivers may have been caused, experienced personal injury attorneys may check hours of service logs and NTSB reports for evidence that they could use in a civil lawsuit. Lawyers may also use subpoenas to obtain health records that could reveal the driver involved had been prescribed narcotic drugs or diagnosed with a medical condition, like sleep apnea.