Recently, a car accident involving popular comedian Tracy Morgan brought attention to a serious driving problem: drowsy driving. The accident took place in the early hours of June 7, 2014 in New Jersey. Morgan and fellow comedian James McNair, better known as Jimmy Mack, were traveling in a limo bus when a semi-truck crashed into their vehicle. As a result, the limo crashed into another vehicle, causing a chain-reaction. In total, six vehicles were involved. McNair died in the accident and Morgan suffered serious injuries.
New Jersey police charged the truck driver with one count of death by auto and several accounts of assault by auto. This is similar to Florida’s vehicle homicide and aggravated assault charges.
The interplay of civil accidents and criminal charges
The truck driver had been awake for over 24 hours at the time of the crash. Evidence suggests that the drowsy truck driver drifted off while on the congested New Jersey turnpike. Additionally, he failed to adjust his speed to account for heavier traffic levels. When the vehicle in front of him slowed down, he did not have time to properly react, causing the collision.
The truck driver faces criminal charges in New Jersey. He did not necessarily violate the federal hours of services regulations, which mandates that truckers be on the road no longer than 11 hours at a time, and only after an uninterrupted 10 hours of rest. However, he was still reckless and negligent, leading to property damage and death.
Studies show that drowsy driving leads to slowed reaction time, poor judgment, and an inability to focus. Drowsy driving is similar to drunk driving. This is why it is vital that drivers are well-rested when driving.