Today the National Transportation Safety Board announced that driver fatigue was the probable cause of the 2014 accident that severely injured comedian Tracy Morgan and killed fellow comedian James “Jimmy Mack” McNair. The NTSB found that the driver of the Walmart truck that slammed into the comedians’ limo van had been awake for more than 28 hours at the time of the crash.
“The American Academy of Sleep Medicine urges drivers to protect themselves, their passengers and fellow drivers by staying awake at the wheel,” said AASM President Dr. Nathaniel Watson. “Healthy sleep is important to prevent drowsy driving and avoid life-threatening accidents caused by drowsiness.”
The motor vehicle accident occurred on June 7, 2014, near Cranbury, New Jersey, and caused several collisions that involved 21 people and six vehicles. The NTSB investigation found that the truck driver had driven 800 miles overnight from his home in Georgia to his workplace in Delaware on the day before the crash. Without obtaining any sleep, he reported for duty at 11 a.m. on June 6 and drove for another 13.5 hours.
At about 12:55 a.m. the truck approached an active construction work zone on the New Jersey Turnpike (part of Interstate 95). Although traffic had slowed to less than 10 mph, the truck continued traveling at a speed of 65 mph before striking the rear end of the limo van.
The NTSB concluded that the driver’s fatigue had diminished his awareness. As a result, he delayed braking and failed to reduce his speed in response to the slow traffic ahead of him.
According to the NTSB, heavy trucks are involved in nearly one in eight fatal crashes. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety reports that 21 percent of all fatal crashes involve driver fatigue.
The American Academy of Sleep Medicine advises transportation companies to promote public safety by implementing an evidence-based fatigue management system. The AASM and other partners in the National Healthy Sleep Awareness Project also encourage every driver to take responsibility for staying “Awake at the Wheel” by making it a daily priority to get sufficient sleep, refusing to drive when sleep-deprived, recognizing the signs of drowsiness, and pulling off the road to a safe location when sleepy.
Learn more about drowsy driving at www.projecthealthysleep.org.
Read the NTSB press release: Fatigue and Excessive Speed Caused Multi-Vehicle Accident in New Jersey
Click below to view the NTSB’s animated three-dimensional (3D) reconstruction of the accident that injured comedian Tracy Morgan: