Officials Conclude Drowsy Driving Cause of Major New Jersey Turnpike Car Crash


The National Safety Transportation Board recently met at an open session to consider a multi-vehicle car accident that occurred last year, which killed comedian James McNair and seriously injured actor Tracy Morgan.  The crash occurred when a Walmart truck rear-ended a van in a construction zone in the early morning hours on June 7, 2014 on the New Jersey Turnpike.  The accident affected six vehicles and also injured 21 people. 

It was determined that the cause of the crash was related to the truck driver’s drowsiness, which made him “slow to react.”  He had only hit the breaks on the truck while 200 feet behind the van in front of him.  Additionally, he had been awake for 28 hours and had driven 800 miles by the time the accident occurred.  Federal regulations restrict the number of hours a truck driver may be on the road to no more than 14 hours in one day. 

The truck driver has been charged with vehicular homicide and assault.  Additionally, Morgan settled a lawsuit with Walmart for his injuries.  He continues to suffer forgetfulness, headaches and nosebleeds as a result of the crash.

Drowsy driving is a serious condition that leads to 100,000 crashes annually, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.  The Center for Disease Control has estimated that drowsy driving is the leading cause of 25% of motor vehicle fatalities.  Unlike driving while intoxicated, there is no way to measure the level of drowsiness a driver experiences.  However, an Australian study concluded that being awake for 24 hours is equivalent to a .10 blood alcohol concentration, thus making drowsy driving as serious a condition as driving under the influence of alcohol.

If you have sustained injuries resulting from a car accident with a drowsy driver, you may be entitled to recover damages.  Contact a personal injury attorney who is experienced at handling cases concerning motor vehicle accidents.  Call Georgaklis & Mallas PLLC at (718) 238-2400 or (212) 779-2400.