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Driver fatigue largely to blame in Tracy Morgan crash

The verdict is in from the National Transportation Safety Board about the cause of the deadly truck crash last year that killed one person and left actor-comedian Tracy Morgan critically injured. It’s a story we suspect many in Texas are aware of.

Morgan and six others were riding in a limousine van in June 2014 on a freeway when the accident occurred. They were stopped in stalled traffic when a speeding Wal-Mart semitrailer truck crashed into the van. In addition to the fatality and Morgan’s severe brain injury, eight other people were hurt.

NTSB investigators say a number of factors contributed to making this a particularly tragic accident. For one thing, the van had been customized to a point where its passengers had no means of escape. They wound up being trapped in the vehicle until emergency crews could free them.

Emergency teams also take some heat. Officials say multiple crews responded, but because of an apparent lack of uniform training among them there were delays in assessing the seriousness of the situation and taking action.

The passengers in the van didn’t do all they could to stay safe, either. Investigators note that seatbelts weren’t used and head restraints weren’t properly set. Had they been injuries might have been mitigated.

But the lion’s share of the blame falls on the driver of the truck and on Wal-Mart. The NTSB says driver fatigue was the chief cause of the wreck. Officials say he had been awake more than 28 hours at the time and was so tired that he was slow to react.

They say he probably shouldn’t have taken on the route to start with, but suggested Wal-Mart and other companies should have stronger systems in place to prevent driver fatigue from being an issue in the first place.

There are rules regarding the number of hours of service that a driver can put in on the job. Too often, HOS rules are ignored and the result can be accidents that cause serious or fatal injury. Victims have a right to seek compensation for losses suffered.