When the National Transportation Safety Board issued its formal accident report earlier this week addressing a fatal motor vehicle accident, the findings could reasonably have been conveyed in dramatically abbreviated fashion.
In fact, two words would have been sufficient to impress upon most people tuned in to the report why the deadly crash involving a commercial truck and a limousine van occurred.
To wit: Speed kills.
An investigative team from the NTSB stated that a Wal-Mart truck driver entered a reduced-speed construction zone early in the morning one day in June of last year traveling at approximately 65 miles per hour. His truck slammed into the van, with the collision killing one person and badly injuring actor/comedian Tracy Morgan. Morgan spent weeks in a coma and is still dealing with the aftereffects of a traumatic brain injury he suffered in the crash.
Unsurprisingly, crash reconstructionists pointed to driver fatigue as being an additional contributing factor in the accident. In fact, it was estimated that the driver had not slept in about 28 hours and had worked nearly 14 hours straight when he slammed into the van.
As noted in one national account of the accident, the crash “sparked a national debate on truck safety.”
NTSB Chairman Christopher Hart delivered some strong crash-related comments, saying that stronger emphasis needs to be placed by trucking enterprises and their drivers on ensuring that behind-the-wheel time is balanced by sufficient rest periods for truckers.
“What the driver does off duty is critically important,” Hart stated.
Morgan sued Wal-Mart following the crash. His civil lawsuit settled earlier this year.
Source: Bloomberg, “Tracy Morgan crash blamed on truck driver fatigue, NTSB says,” Alan Levin and Jeff Plungis, Aug. 11, 2015