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Tracy Morgan's truck accident sparks debate on trucking laws

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Unlike a car, driving a truck requires a special degree of care and training, mostly due to the size of the vehicle. Residents of Roanoke, Virginia, are perhaps aware of the specific rules that truckers are required to follow, apart from the usual rules of the road. These rules have been implemented to ensure that anyone driving a truck does so in the safest manner possible, thus, minimizing any chance of a truck accident.

Yet, instances of drivers flouting the law, often with disastrous consequences, can always be found. A recent, much-discussed truck accident is that of the collision involving the actor and comedian Tracy Morgan. The truck driver allegedly had no sleep for more than a day preceding the accident, in violation of a federal law that limits the number of hours truckers can drive nonstop up to 11 hours per day. Furthermore, an extended time behind the truck wheel should follow at least 10 hours spent away from the wheel. The law also sets a 70-hours-per-week limit as the maximum amount of driving allowed.

This latest high-profile truck accident has raised questions on these limits, in part due to doubts about effectiveness. Truckers sometimes consume caffeinated drinks to cut down on breaks, which, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, is responsible for 100,000 accidents annually. Also being debated is the fact that such laws were not in place earlier and that their existence today might be a consequence of the greater financial liability.

For victims of truck accidents, the letter of the law, and how well it is obeyed, may seem an irrelevant discussion. If it is clearly evident that if the truck driver is at fault, victims or their families may avail compensation through legal action. With or without a change in federal trucking regulations, their suffering remains constant.

Source: WOWK-TV, "Comedian Tracy Morgan's accident shines spotlight on trucking rules, regulation," Ariel Rothfield, June 10, 2014

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