NTSB Rules Trucker That Seriously Injured Comedian Tracy Morgan Was Fatigued, Speeding
According to NTSB officials, a truck driver’s deadly crash involving SNL funnyman Tracy Morgan and his good friend, comedian James McNair, was due to extreme fatigue.
Kevin Roper, a Wal-Mart truck driver from Georgia, reportedly hadn’t slept in 28 hours when he crashed his 18-wheeler into the limo Morgan and McNair were traveling in. Although, Morgan survived the crash, it left him severely injured.
The National Transportation Safety Board determined that Roper had also been traveling 65 mph before the collision near Cranbury, N.J., in a construction zone where the speed limit was 45 mph in the early hours of June 7, 2014.
“Drivers have a professional responsibility to do the right thing,” NTSB member Robert Sumwalt stated. “Their professional obligation is to their company and the people who share the road with them. This driver abdicated each of those responsibilities.”
The day before the crash, NTSB authorities say Roper made an 800-mile overnight drive from his home in Georgia to his workplace in Delaware, and then reported for duty without obtaining any sleep, which substantially contributed to his fatigue.
“Hours-of-service rules cannot address what drivers do on their own time,” said NTSB Chairman Christopher A. Hart. “This driver had been on duty 13 ½ hours of a 14-hour workday, but had been awake more than 28 hours at the time of the crash. Fatigue management programs can help.”
At the time of the accident, Walmart reportedly addressed fatigue as a part of its driver training, but it did not have a structured fatigue management program in place that could have improved its ability to better monitor its drivers and educate them about the risks of fatigue.
According to NTSB authorities, heavy trucks are involved in nearly one in eight fatal crashes. In work zones, such as the one in which this crash occurred, one in four fatal crashes involves a heavy truck. Roper is said to have traveled 0.9 miles past the first work zone sign and more than 0.4 miles past the 45 mph speed limit sign without slowing his speed from 65 mph.
While the NTSB found fault with Roper, it also determined that the serious injuries to the occupants seated in the passenger compartment of the limo van were due in part to their failure to use available seat belts and properly adjusted head restraints.
The NTSB has reiterated a recommendation to the FMCSA to require operators to give pretrip safety briefings to passengers concerning the importance of safety equipment and how to exit the vehicle in an emergency.