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THE SAFETY COMMUNITY AND TEAMSTERS RESPOND TO NTSB INITIAL REPORT ON THE TRACY MORGAN CRASH
TRUCK DRIVER WAS WITHIN 23 MINUTES of HOURS OF SERVICE LIMIT AT THE TIME OF THE CRASH PERTH AMBOY DESTINATION WOULD HAVE BEEN TOO FAR TO REACH IN TIME AT THE POSTED SPEED
Truck Driver Charged with Death by Auto and Assault by Auto for Causing the Crash that Killed One Man and Critically Injured Others, Including Actor Tracy Morgan
WASHINGTON, D.C. (June 19, 2014)—The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) released an initial report on the crash that killed comedian James McNair and critically injured others, including actor Tracy Morgan, on the New Jersey Turnpike. The NTSB found that the driver of the Wal-Mart truck, Kevin Roper, 35, had logged over 13 hours, and was just under the maximum 14-hour limit for commercial motor vehicle drivers. Roper was within 23 minutes of his hours of service limits at the time of the crash and would have failed to reach his Perth Amboy destination before exceeding the allowable hours of service limits.
“The NTSB’s preliminary findings in this case clearly show that truck drivers are pushing beyond the limits of the current hours of service rules,” said Teamsters General President, James P. Hoffa. “In light of these findings, it would be irresponsible to even consider rolling back hours of service rules and opening the door to increased driver fatigue.”
The NTSB findings come as the Senate is about to vote on the Booker Amendment to stop tired trucking. This amendment is introduced by Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) and cosponsored by Senators John D. Rockefeller (D-WV), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Charles Schumer (D-NY), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Edward J. Markey (D-MA), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Sherrod C. Brown (D-OH), Richard J. Durbin (D-IL), Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI), Brian E. Schatz (D-HI), and Chris S. Murphy (D-CT). The Booker Amendment would protect the restart provision in the hours of service rule ensuring that truck drivers get adequate rest and maintaining the current maximum 60-70 hours per week. The amendment was introduced as a response to the Collins Amendment, which would increase the truck driver weekly work week to over 80 hours.
Joan Claybrook, Chair, Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways (CRASH), said, “It is tragic and unfortunate that it took a horrific crash caused by a dozing truck driver killing one person and severely injuring Tracy Morgan and others to bring national attention to the epidemic of fatigued truck drivers on our roads. These truck drivers are being pushed beyond their limits to work 70 hour work weeks, and now Senator Collins wants to increase this time to more than 80 hours. The Collins Amendment is not a solution to tired truckers but a gift to trucking industry allies. It’s time to put the brakes on these rolling sweatshops. Not a single safety organization supports the Collins Amendment but every major highway and truck safety organization supports Senator Booker’s amendment, cosponsored by fourteen additional Senators. It is absolutely clear which amendment is on the side of safety.”
Jacqueline Gillan, President of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, stated, “Truck drivers should be sleeping in beds and not behind the wheel of an 80,000 lb. rig traveling at high speeds. Sen. Collins’ proposal will turn back the clock to a time when truck drivers only had one day and 10 hours off between 80 hour driving and working shifts. It was under this grueling schedule that a 2005 survey of truck drivers showed that almost half admitted to falling asleep behind the wheel and 65% admitted to driving drowsy. Not a single safety group has endorsed the Collins Amendment. Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety strongly supports the Booker Amendment and urges the Senate to put safety first.”
The issue of truck driver fatigue is very personal to Daphne Izer, Founder of Parents Against Tired Truckers (PATT), who lost her son Jeff Izer, 17, in a preventable truck crash by a fatigued truck driver. Izer said, “No loss of life is worth getting a load of freight delivered on time. Truck driver fatigue has been a serious safety issue for over 70 years and we need to uphold the ongoing efforts to improve this safety issue, not make it worse, which is why I support the Booker Amendment.”