NTSB Faults Wal-Mart Truck Driver for Accident Severely Injuring Comedian Tracy Morgan
The National Transportation Safety Board (“NSTB”) reported that its investigation into the truck accident on the New Jersey Turnpike in which comedian Tracy Morgan was severely injured and another comedian killed found the driver of the Wal-Mart truck that struck Morgan’s limousine responsible for the accident. The truck driver had not slept in 28 hours and had failed to slow down despite posted warning signs. The board said the truck driver could have prevented the, crash if he had slowed to 45 mph, the posted speed limit for the construction work zone where the crash occurred.
The truck traveled 0.9 miles past the first work zone sign and more than 0.4 miles past the 45 mph speed limit sign without slowing from 65 mph. The truck was going that fast until it reached a closing distance of approximately 200 feet before the impact. The NSTB found that had the truck been going the posted 45 mph limit, it could have stopped before impact.
The NSTB also found that the failure of the passengers in the limousine-van to wear seat belts contributed to the severity of injuries.
In just 15 weeks working for Wal-Mart, the truck driver had had nine "critical event reports." Critical event reports record things such as hard braking, activation of the vehicle's stability control system or other events that might indicate unsafe driving. These reports are generated by a truck's computers and downloaded by Wal-Mart.
The NTSB pointed out that Wal-Mart discussed fatigue as part of its driver training before the crash, but did not have a structured fatigue management program in place. The driver had worked 13-1/2 hours of a 14-hour work day, but had been awake for 28 hours before the crash.
Heavy trucks are involved in nearly 1 in 8 fatal crashes, NTSB said. In work zones, 1 in 4 fatal crashes involves a heavy truck.
There are special rules and regulations that apply to trucks and truck drivers, and it is important to choose a lawyer who is familiar with them.