Chicago, IL (PRWEB) June 18, 2014
Commenting on recent news reports about the highway accident that seriously injured comedian Tracy Morgan, Chicago truck accident attorney Gregory F. Coplan of Coplan & Crane, LLC. today said the crash in New Jersey puts a spotlight on the dangers of fatigued driving.
According to a June 11, 2014, article in the Chicago Tribune, a criminal complaint filed in Middlesex County Superior Court in New Brunswick, New Jersey, states that the truck driver allegedly was awake for more than 24 hours before the accident. (Click here to view the police report). The Wal-Mart truck rear-ended a limo carrying Morgan and others, including comedian James “Jimmy Mack” McNair, who died in the accident. Two other people were listed in critical condition, according to the Tribune.
“Driver fatigue has been one of the most important concerns, and most prevalent problems, in the trucking industry for decades,” Coplan said. “It is the single most compelling reason for the Hours-of-Service standards that have been part of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations, in one form or another, for decades.”
The government requires commercial truck drivers to keep a log of their sleep as well as time spent driving, loading and unloading. Truckers cannot drive more than 11 hours each day without rest and may not work more than 14 hours, including driving and non-driving, in any 24-hour period, according to the FMCSR.
The accident occurred only days after the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee took action to weaken federal truck safety rules. Currently, truckers can drive between 60 and 70 hours a week, depending on the type of company employing the driver. According to the Tribune, Congress is weighing a proposal that would allow drivers to put in as many as 82 hours a week behind the wheel.
The trucking industry supports loosening the rules. The American Trucking Association argues that no regulation can address how a driver spends his off-duty time, according to a June 9, 2014, article in TruckNews.com.
While the driver in the Tracy Morgan accident is accused of being awake for more than 24 hours prior to the crash, Wal-Mart responded that it believes he was in compliance with the federal regulations. Wal-Mart issued an apology the day after the accident.
According to a June 8, 2014, report in Bloomberg News, Bill Simon, president and CEO of Wal-Mart, said: “This is a tragedy and we are profoundly sorry that one of our trucks was involved.”
Attorney Coplan said the accident illustrates the importance of keeping the cap on a driver’s workweek. According to saferoads.org, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration reports that more than 750 people die and 20,000 more are injured each year because of fatigued commercial drivers.
“Most people don’t hear about asleep-at-the-wheel trucking accidents until someone well-known like Tracy Morgan is involved. But as the FMCSA statistics show, they happen far too often,” Coplan said. “Congress needs to keep the Hours-of-Service rules in place. Loosening the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations would undo years of work to reduce highway fatalities caused by truck drivers who fall asleep at the wheel.”
For more information about what to do after a car or truck accident in Illinois and the legal options available to families, call (800) 394-6002 or complete the online contact form.
The Chicago Tribune article cited is “Trucker in Tracy Morgan crash due in court today.”
The TruckNews.com article cited is “ATA addresses Tracy Morgan tractor-trailer crash.”
The Bloomberg News article cited is “Wal-Mart Says Sorry After Tracy Morgan Hurt in Accident.”
About Coplan & Crane, LLC.
Serving clients in Oak Park, Chicago and all of Illinois, Coplan & Crane handles a wide range of cases, including car accidents, truck accidents, bus accidents, railroad accidents, workplace injuries, dangerous products, medical malpractice and birth injuries. The law firm has a strong track record for obtaining large verdicts and settlements, including several, high-profile, multi-million-dollar settlements and verdicts. A free consultation is available to all interested clients. The law firm works on a contingency fee basis. That means people only pay if they win.
Coplan & Crane, LLC.
1111 Westgate St
Oak Park, IL 60301