ALBANY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) — In the wake of an accident on the New Jersey Turnpike that injured actor and comedian Tracy Morgan, Sen. Charles Schumer is launching a plan to keep tired truck drivers off the road.
On Sunday, the New York Democrat called on the U.S. Department of Transportation to speed up a requirement that companies and drivers use electronic logging devices to accurately log hours driven. He says most truck drivers currently log their hours manually.
“Each year, thousands of people are hurt and even killed in truck crashes due to overworked and fatigued drivers,” Schumer told reporters, WCBS 880’s Jim Smith reported.
The handwritten logs are easily falsified, Schumer said.
“With a black box in the cab of the truck, we’ll know if the truck driver drove more than 11 hours a day, if he or she took a half-hour off — as they’re supposed to in that 11 hours — and if they drove more than 70 hours a week,” Schumer said, 1010 WINS’ Carol D’Auria reported.
There is a federal law requiring the electronic devices, but Schumer said the implementation is several years behind schedule, D’Auria reported. He wants the black boxes required in the next two months.
Schumer is also asking for the DOT to issue a study and increase insurance coverage by trucking companies in the case of a massive accident.
Schumer’s request comes on the heels of a crash involving a tractor-trailer and a limo bus in which Morgan was riding. Morgan, the former star of “Saturday Night Live” and “30 Rock,” and two others were critically injured, and comedian James “Uncle Jimmy Mack” McNair was killed in the accident on June 7.
Kevin Roper, 35, of Jonesboro, Georgia, was driving a Walmart truck early Saturday in Cranbury Township when authorities said he apparently failed to slow for traffic ahead and then swerved to avoid a crash. Instead, authorities said his big rig smashed into the back of Morgan’s chauffeured limo bus, causing it to overturn.
According to the criminal complaint, Roper operated the truck “without having slept for a period in excess of 24 hours, resulting in a motor vehicle accident.” It doesn’t specify the basis for that assertion.
Morgan, 45, suffered a broken femur, a broken nose and several broken ribs. He underwent surgery for his broken leg and is in critical-but-stable condition. Morgan is expected to remain hospitalized for weeks.
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