Congress demands study of trucker hours after Tracy Morgan crash

Submitted by New Jersey Truck Crash Lawyer, Jeffrey Hark

WASHINGTON — Federal lawmakers want a study on truck drivers’ hours in the wake of the New Jersey Turnpike crash that seriously injured comedian Tracy Morgan and killed his friend.

The Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act, which renews federal surface transportation programs through 2020, requires a Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration study on long commutes by truck drivers. The bill was the end product of negotiations between the House and Senate, which initially passed six-year bills for federal road, bridge, railroad and transit programs.

The study was initially part of the Truck Safety Act introduced in July by U.S. Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), the top Democrat on the Senate Commerce surface transportation subcommittee.

The provision mandating the study cited the 2014 accident along the New Jersey Turnpike near Cranbury, which the National Transportation Safety Board blamed on the truck driver’s failure to get adequate rest before getting behind the wheel of a tractor-trailer.

The June 7 crash on the turnpike near Exit 8A in Cranbury, in a construction work zone, occurred when a Wal-Mart tractor-trailer crashed into a limo bus carrying Morgan and others, setting off a chain reaction collision that eventually involved six vehicles and 21 people. Fellow comedian James “Jimmy Mack” McNair, a passenger in Morgan’s limo bus, was killed.

Audio: 911 calls released in Tracy Morgan NJ Turnpike crash Police released the 911 calls in the NJ Turnpike crash that injured comedian actor Tracy Morgan.

The driver, Kevin Roper, was traveling 65 mph in a 45 mph zone and reacted too late to the brake lights of the vehicles ahead of him.

The NTSB said that Roper had not slept for more than 28 hours, the safety board said. He first drove 800 miles overnight from his home in Georgia to a Wal-Mart distribution center in Delaware and then set out on his delivery route.

The provision in the transportation bill said that the government study “shall address the prevalence of long commutes in the industry and the impact on safety.”

Morgan, a Cresskill resident and a former star of “Saturday Night Live” and “30 Rock,” suffered a broken leg, broken nose and several broken ribs in the crash. He reached an undisclosed settlement with Wal-Mart in May. The company earlier settled with McNair’s family.

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Jeffrey Hark is a New Jersey Civil and Criminal Lawyer.

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