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Truck accident involving Tracy Morgan highlights issue of hours of service rules

Readers may remember that it was over two years ago that actor and comedian Tracy Morgan was involved in a serious truck accident on the New Jersey Turnpike. That crash proved fatal to fellow comedian James McNair, and seriously injurious for Morgan. It was, according to reports, over a year after the accident before Morgan was able to return to work.

The truck driver responsible for the crash initially pleaded not guilty to criminal charges in connection to the crash, but ultimately cut a deal with prosecutors that will allow him to avoid conviction as long as he complies with the conditions of the agreement, which include community service and participation in a pretrial intervention program. 

Part of what made Morgan’s case so newsworthy is the fact that the driver had been awake for over 28 hours at the time of the accident, having driven his personal vehicle 12 hours from Georgia before beginning his shift in Delaware. Although the trucker was not, according to reports, found to be in violation of federal hours of service rules, he had clearly been driving in a state of serious fatigue.   

The hours of service rules have been in the news a fair amount in recent years due to debate about the 34-hour restart rule, which requires truckers to take 34 or more consecutive hours off duty before restarting their seven or eight day workweek. In 2014, Congress suspended a part of the rule which required truckers to take, as part of their 34-hour break, two periods from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. That was a controversial measure in the trucking industry for various reasons.

In our next post, we’ll continue looking at the topic of hours of service rules and what role they can play in personal injury litigation for those harmed by a truck driver in an accident. 

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