The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations require that a driver work no more than 11 hours in any consecutive 14 hour period - for any shift. Following 11 hours on duty, the driver must be off duty for 10 consecutive hours before starting another shift. Last Saturday night, a Wal-Mart long-haul trucker named Kevin Roper blatantly violated this rule by driving without having slept for more than 24 hours. As a result of Mr. Roper’s willful violation of the Federal rules, he rear-ended a limo bus on the New Jersey Turnpike around 1 a.m. The traffic collision severely injured comedian Tracy Morgan and killed another comedian named James McNair.
The truck driver was unable to substantiate with his driving logs that he had slept in the 24 hours prior to the catastrophic commercial truck crash. Investigators found conclusive evidence that driver fatigue was the likely cause of the crash. Consequently, the 35-year-old Wal-Mart driver has been charged with vehicular homicide and careless driving.
Nevertheless, Mr. Roper is probably not the only guilty one for this fatal crash. Consider that many truck drivers are paid for each mile they drive instead of an hourly rate. The rate can be as low as $0.35 per mile. At this rate, driving 60 miles in one hour results in little more than a $20 an hour rate of pay. In rush hour traffic or with snowy conditions in the mountains, truckers can earn far less than minimum wage. So, how do truckers survive and earn a living wage? Answer: many cheat.
Some truckers carry two logbooks. One logbook is the one that truckers use to prove their actual mileage to their employer and the other logbook is the one they show to the authorities with falsified on duty/off duty entries. Also, to stay awake longer on trips, some truckers risk the lives of other drivers by resorting to the use of stimulants like methamphetamine.
While not every victim is going to be as well known as Tracy Morgan, I hope his fame will bring to the surface what we have been talking about for years. Trucking companies make it virtually impossible for truckers to earn a living wage AND comply with trucking regulations. Essentially, with the way they pay their drivers, trucking companies force many truck drivers to cheat the system. This cheating endangers our communities and the body count from trucking collisions should demand action.
At Anderson, Hemmat & McQuinn, we hold trucking companies and commercial truckers responsible for their reckless endangerment of other drivers. The health and safety of others should never be sacrificed for financial gain and profit. If you have been injured by a negligent semi-truck driver in Denver, please call (303) 782-9999 and speak with one of our experienced commercial trucking accident attorneys today.