It’s no secret that driving while drowsy is extremely dangerous behavior. This is perhaps especially true for truck drivers, who may feel pressured to stay awake for long hours, even beyond what they are legally permitted to do under federal regulations. According to court papers, the driver of a tractor-trailer involved in the accident that critically injured comedian Tracy Morgan had been up for at least a day prior to the fatal 18-wheeler accident.
The crash, which killed one of Morgan’s friends and injured three other people, has resulted in several criminal charges against the 35-year-old truck driver, including vehicular homicide. That charge stems from the fact that New Jersey has a law punishing people who drive if they have been awake for at least 24 hours and cause a fatal accident. The law, known as Maggie’s Law, is named after a 20-year-old who was killed by a sleep-deprived driver in 1997.
According to the charges, the driver of the big rig had been up for more than a day before the crash. His truck rear-ended the limo bus carrying Morgan and his colleagues from a comedy show in Delaware, apparently because he did not see or notice the bus until it was too late.
Truck drivers are required to have periods of rest during what can be long work shifts in order to prevent them from driving on too little sleep. The state legislator who sponsored Maggie’s Law said that he hoped the terrible accident would serve to remind people of the dangers of driving while sleep deprived.
Source: The Star-Ledger, “Crash that injured Tracy Morgan is reminder of why it’s illegal to drive without sleep, NJ legislator says,” Sue Epstein, June 9, 2014