In the early morning hours of June 7, 2014, the actor and comedian Tracy Morgan was involved in a serious accident on the New Jersey Turnpike as he was leaving a comedy show in Delaware. Tracy Morgan and other comedians were in a limo bus that had slowed down for traffic when they were struck from behind by a semi-truck driven by Kevin Roper of Georgia. The limo flipped over on its roof and a chain reaction accident was started involving several other vehicles. Morgan and two other people were seriously injured in the crash. One other comedian in the limo, James McNair, otherwise known as “Jimmy Mack”, died at the scene.
Morgan is expected to remain in the hospital for several weeks because of his injuries, which included a broken leg, nose and ribs. According to his representative, he had surgery for his injuries over the weekend at a New Jersey Hospital.
Roper, a Walmart employee who was driving a company truck at the time of the accident, turned himself in and has been charged with a variety of crimes including death by auto and multiple counts of assault by auto. According to prosecutors, Roper had not slept in at least 24 hours before the accident happened and some reports are saying that he may have dozed off and did not notice the slowing traffic. Roper is currently free on $50,000 bail and has another hearing schedule for June 11, 2014.
Unfortunately, accidents like these are all too common. Many trucking companies and companies such as Walmart push the limit on regulations regarding rest time for drivers and put intense pressure on drivers to finish their runs quicker in order to maximize profits. The result is that there are accidents such as this one, where truckers zone out or fall asleep at the wheel.
According to the NHTSA, up to 12-13 percent of all deadly accidents involved trucks. In 2000 alone, there were nearly 5000 fatal accidents nationwide involving trucks. Of all the accidents involving trucks, up to 20% directly involves drivers who were drowsy or actually asleep at the time of the accident.
Florida is one of the worst states in the country when it comes to truck driver safety with over 1500 trucks involved in fatal accidents in a four year period. This means that in four years there were 300 accidents involving a truck in Florida alone where there was at least one death. Statistically, 60 of these involved a drowsy or sleeping truck driver.
The total number of accidents each year across the U.S. involving sleepy or sleeping drivers is well over 100,000. According to one study, you are up to six times more likely to be involved in an accident if you are driving while drowsy. While this is not as large as the number of deaths by driving while impaired by drugs or alcohol, driving while drowsy is a serious problem that amounts to huge amounts of injury and death every year.