U.S. Senator Charles Schumer is launching a plan to keep tired truck drivers off the roads after Saturday Night Live comedian Tracy Morgan was critically injured in an accident with a sleep-deprived trucker earlier this month. The accident occurred in New Jersey when a truck driver from Georgia who was driving a Walmart truck failed to slow down for traffic ahead. He then swerved to avoid a crash. His truck smashed into the back of Morgan’s chauffeured limo bus, killing another comedian and critically injuring two others besides Morgan.
Authorities say that the driver drove his truck without having slept for over 24 hours. He was criminally charged with death by auto and four counts of assault by auto. Truck drivers have strict rules they are supposed to follow about how many hours they can drive in a week. They are not allowed to drive more than 11 hours a day. They also must take 30 minutes off during those 11 hours. In addition, they can’t drive more than 70 hours in a week. There are also other rules designed to limit the number of hours driven.
Schumer is asking the U.S. Department of Transportation to speed up a requirement that trucking companies use electronic logging devices to log their hours driven. Currently, most truck drivers log their hours manually, but according to Schumer those logs can be easily falsified. He is calling on all companies to instead use electronic black boxes to record the hours. There is currently a law requiring that black boxes be used in trucks, but the implementation of the law is several years behind schedule. Schumer is asking that the black boxes be required in the next two months. Schumer is also asking that the DOT increase required insurance coverage by trucking companies in the event of a huge accident.
In 2012, over 3,900 people were killed and 104,000 were injured in accidents involving large trucks. The number of accidents involving large trucks has increased steadily over the last five years, and unfortunately fatalities are up 18 percent since 2009. If a person is injured or killed in an accident involving a large truck, they or their family is entitled to compensation for that accident. This may include money for medical expenses, funeral expenses, pain and suffering, lost wages, and more.
If you have been injured in an accident involving a tractor trailer or a large truck, our attorneys will be happy to provide you with a free consultation.