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Drowsy truckers asleep at the wheel

Tracy Morgan-the actor and comedian best known for his work on 30 Rock and Saturday Night Live-just about lost his life in an accident. Back in 2014, Morgan was a passenger in a limo van on the New Jersey Turnpike when a Wal-Mart tractor-trailer crashed into the van. The impact flipped the Mercedes with Morgan and five other passengers onto its side and smashed it into other vehicles. The crash involved a total of 21 people and 6 vehicles.

Even though Morgan spent two weeks in a coma after the accident and suffered a broken leg, nose, ribs and a traumatic brain injury, he fared better than his friend, James McNair, who died in the impact. It's only been recently that Morgan has been able to return to performing.

Driver fatigue was the cause

The day before the crash, the driver had made an 800-mile overnight trip to get to his workplace. Without getting any sleep, the driver started his route. At the time of the accident, he had been awake for 28 hours straight and was 13-1/2 hours into his 14-hour maximum workday.

Federal limits

Federal safety regulations regarding a driver's hours of service require:

  • Once the driver is at work, the driver can drive/work up to a maximum of 14 hours before they need to go off duty for a period of 10 hours.
  • During the 14-hour shift, the truck driver can drive a maximum of 11 hours.
  • A truck driver has a maximum work/driving combination of 60 hours in a 7 day period.

What fatigue does to a driver

According to the National Safety Council, driving while drowsy is similar to driving while under the influence of alcohol. Driving after 20 hours without sleep is the equivalent of driving with a blood-alcohol concentration of .08, the U.S. legal limit. Some of the effects include:

  • Slowed reaction times
  • Reduced awareness of hazards
  • Micro-sleep, a short burst of inattention. Even five seconds of micro-sleep, which at 55 mph, compares to driving the length of a football field with your eyes closed.

If you or a loved one has been injured by a drowsy truck driver, life can change dramatically in the blink of an eye. Between the hospital stays and medical bills, police reports and insurance claims, the process can be uncertain and complicated. An experienced personal injury attorney can guide you through the process and help you recover financial compensation for lost income, medical expenses, pain and suffering, and other losses and damages. Your attorney can help you get life back on track again.

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