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Driver fatigue alleged in fatal highway accident

The investigation into the cause of the accident that left comedian Tracy Morgan hospitalized and killed a close friend of Morgan's as they rode in a chauffeur-driven limo bus has focused on a truck driver's lack of sleep. Media coverage of the semi-truck accident has brought attention to the dangers posed by truck driver fatigue on highways in Tennessee and throughout the United States.

Officials allege that the truck driver did not notice that vehicles ahead of him had reduced their speed on the New Jersey Turnpike. The driver's last-minute swerve in an attempt to avoid a crash caused his vehicle to crash into the limo bus, injuring Morgan and three other occupants and killing the comedian's close friend. The injured comedian is expected to remain in the hospital as he recovers from multiple fractures.

Police charged the truck driver with death by auto and assault by auto in a criminal complaint that claims that the driver had not slept for 24 hours. Officials did not elaborate on the source of any information concerning the driver's inadequate sleep. Federal regulations require drivers to maintain records about the hours they spend behind the wheel each day. Federal regulations limit commercial drivers to a total of 11 hours behind the wheel each day with at least 10 hours off for sleep.

In similar situations, investigators might determine if any of the vehicles involved were equipped with safety systems that automatically reduce vehicles' speeds and alert the drivers to the traffic ahead, as this truck apparently was. If a truck accident occurs because one of these systems was not working properly, then any injured parties might try to hold both the driver and whoever was responsible for maintaining the equipment accountable via a civil lawsuit.

Source: Yahoo! News, "Authorities: Trucker in Morgan crash hadn't slept", David Porter, June 10, 2014

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