Just over a year ago, a truck accident involving comedian Tracy Morgan became a high-profile example of a problem on U.S. highways that is too often overlooked. Most truck accidents are preventable, yet they occur regularly and result in about 4,000 traffic deaths per year, on average.
And although there are several common causes of truck accidents, the Tracy Morgan crash highlighted one of the most dangerous: truck driver fatigue. The National Transportation Safety Board recently announced the results of its investigation into the June 2014 crash that ended in one death and at least eight injuries. As expected, the NTSB determined that the chief cause of the truck accident was fatigued driving by a truck driver who had been awake for more than 28 straight hours.
In many motor vehicle accidents, other factors can come into play, and this crash was no exception. The limousine van Morgan and his friends were riding in had been modified, and many passengers weren’t wearing seatbelts, the NTSB said. These factors exacerbated injuries and made it harder for emergency crews to rescue victims.
Still, these were exacerbating factors in an accident primarily caused by driver fatigue. According to news sources, the Wal-Mart truck driver lived in Georgia but drove all night prior to the accident just to start his shift in Delaware. It is not difficult to see how an 800-mile commute for a truck driving job would pose a safety risk. To some observers, Wal-Mart’s decision to settle a lawsuit filed by Morgan could be seen as a tacit admission of its own negligence in hiring and training practices for its truck drivers.
Until or unless lawmakers and regulators consistently crack down on practices that lead to fatigued driving, truck accidents will remain an all-too-common hazard. Hopefully, the tragic truck accident involving Tracy Morgan will help raise awareness about this important issue.