Morgan crash sparks debate over trucker fatigue

HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — The Tracy Morgan crash has helped to put the national focus on trucker fatigue.

Police say the driver in that crash — that killed one man and critically injured the comedian Morgan and two others — hadn’t slept in more than 24 hours.

And despite statistics that say truck accidents have increased nearly 40 percent in the past few years, the U.S. Senate is set to take up legislation that expands the number of hours truckers can be on the road.

Connecticut’s two senators say the conversation is being driven by major trucking firms.

“Trucking interests that want nothing more than to fatten their bottom lines at the risk of drivers — truck drivers and ordinary car drivers,” said U.S.Sen. Richard Blumenthal.

The rules change that the Senate will consider next week would not only change the rules about trucker rest periods but would expand the current 60- to 70-hour workweek.

“It could increase their driving hours up to 82 hours in an eight-day period,” said John Capobianco of the Teamsters Union. “It’s crazy, it’s not safe.”

That’s a 14-hour workday with up to 11 of those hours driving.

“Fourteen hours a day is a long day,” said Tom Gaffney of Naugatuck. “I do pick up and delivery and it’s just too much, you get fatigued.”

News 8 also spoke with long-haul trucker Lee Hawthorne on the road. He also believes the current rules should stay in place.

“There is also a law that is out there within the federal Motor Carrier Act that if you are tired, you are mandated to pull over and rest,” he said.

And Hawthorne noted that a large percentage of fatal truck accidents are determined to be the fault of drivers in passenger cars and not the trucker.

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