Saying that fatigue "cannot be addressed solely by regulations," National Transportation Safety Board Chairman Christopher Hart pointed to sleep deprivation as the primary catalyst in a deadly truck accident last year and stated that commercial drivers need to be more attuned to their rest requirements when off duty.
Hart's remarks were delivered today, delivered in the context of a fatal truck/van collision that occurred in June of last year when a Wal-Mart driver slammed into a limo van.
Comedian Tracy Morgan was a passenger in the van. The crash killed one of his friends, with Morgan being in an extended coma following the accident. He broke multiple bones in the crash and also suffered a traumatic brain injury.
The truck's speed was literally a driving force in the one-sided outcome between the larger Wal-Mart vehicle and the van. Accident investigators from the NTSB say that the van was essentially inching along in a construction work zone; conversely, the truck was estimated to be moving at about 65 miles per hour in the reduced-speed zone when it struck the van.
NTSB officials state that the driver missed obvious -- and multiple -- cues just prior to the accident that traffic was slowing ahead of him. Vehicles traveling at reduced speeds were reportedly visible for about a half a mile ahead.
Morgan sued Wal-Mart following the crash, with that litigation settling earlier this year. The company apologized for the crash, with a spokesperson saying that the retailer was "committed to doing what's right." Wal-Mart says that material changes have been made to its driver policies to ensure better safety outcomes in the future.
Source: Bloomberg, "Tracy Morgan crash blamed on truck driver fatigue, NTSB says," Alan Levin and Jeff Plungis, Aug. 11, 2015