Sometimes it takes a “celebrity” being involved in an accident for a specific safety issue to get extensive national attention. This is exactly what happened recently. A Wal-Mart Stores Inc. truck driver went at least 24 hours without sleep before his tractor-trailer crashed into a limousine, critically injuring actor-comedian Tracy Morgan and killing another entertainer. Kevin Roper, 35, of Jonesboro, Ga., drove “without having slept for a period in excess of 24 hours” before the six-vehicle accident on June 7 at 1 a.m. on the New Jersey Turnpike
Roper was charged with death by auto and assault. This accident may make it more complicated for U.S. lawmakers who are considering an end to federal rules designed to help prevent long-haul truck drivers from dozing at the wheel. The accident report reveals that Roper was doing 65 mph in a 45 mph speed zone.
Bill Simon, president of Wal-Mart U.S., has apologized for the accident and he said the company is cooperating with law enforcement. Wal-Mart U.S. is a unit of Bentonville, Ark.- based Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the world’s largest retail chain, with about $476 billion of revenue in the fiscal year that ended Jan. 31.
Federal law now requires drivers to work no more than 14 hours for any shift and 11 hours of driving. Sgt. Gregory Williams, who is with the New Jersey State Police, said Roper “failed to observe” slow-moving traffic ahead of him until it was too late, colliding with the limousine. It was reported that the limousine van, a 2012 Mercedes Sprinter, spun and then flipped over.
James (“Jimmie Mack”) McNair, who was a passenger in the limousine van, was killed in the crash. Morgan, 45, who starred in the television comedy “30 Rock” after leaving “Saturday Night Live,” was one of three people in the van critically injured. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has joined the investigation by state police. A Spokesman for NTSB, Keith Holloway, said the agency will look at the work and rest schedule of the drivers, and will examine questions related to commercial trucking and limousine safety.
Source: Claims Journal
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