Truck Driver in Tracy Morgan Crash Awake For 24 Hours, Truck Drivers React

Each day thousands of truck drivers hit the road; carrying everything from food to furniture to cars.

“Trucking is what makes America move,” said Jerome Coco. “Without truck drivers, America would be at a standstill.”

Coco has been a truck driver for more than two decades. He says it’s a job he takes very seriously.

“I’m allowed to drive 11 hours a day, so I’m going to drive 11 hours a day,” he said.  “I’m not going to push it because I’m worth more than that, and there’s other people out there.”

Not everyone however shares Coco’s way of thinking.

Early Saturday morning, a Walmart truck driver slammed into actor and comedian Tracy Morgan’s limo bus along the New Jersey Turnpike.

Morgan is still recovering at a New Jersey hospital. His friend, comedian James McNair, was killed in the crash.

According to a criminal complaint, the driver, Kevin Roper, hadn’t slept for more than 24 hours.

Roper has since been charged with one count of death by auto and four counts of assault by auto.

“For guys to go out and do stuff like that, or fudge their logs or drive 24 hours in a day, that’s crazy because my life is on the line, everybody I know life’s on the line, your life is on the line, and we don’t need drivers like that out tTMORGANhere on the road,” Coco added.

Some drivers say they’re hoping more companies will convert to electronic logging systems, which use GPS to track every move and hour of the driver.

“As soon as you start your day, the time starts and then if you stop, it tells you where you stopped and how long you stopped,” said truck driver, Ralph Dalessio.

Fellow truck driver Charles Payne added, “I’ve been out here since 1981; you don’t have to kill people to make money.”

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, truck drivers may drive for no more than 11 hours a day and work a total of no more than 14 hours.

They must also have at least 10 hours off duty in between working periods.

3 comments

  • DEBRA

    The post says "he was AWAKE" for 24 hours. It did not say that he was DRIVING for 24 hours. I am not condoning what he did, it was totally irresponsible, but I know Wal-mart has like 150 distribution centers, and they probably don't drive more than 8 hours away from any one distribution center. And again if the guy was up, partying, taking care of young ones, or whatever kept him awake all day and all night long, he should've called off work or something, driving in that kind of condition is just as bad as driving drunk!

  • Bev

    I agree Debra and I know for a fact that he was not driving the entire time. And I'm not condoning him either. Wal-Mart is very by the book with their drivers and everything is logged electronically. The truck is not able to move after they have driven for their alloted time of 11 hours. And that truck will not move until it sits for 10 hours. Whatever he did on his time off was up to him. But I still think there are a lot of unanswered questions into this investigation. I'm so sorry for the decision he made to drive without sleep. He just was not thinking of the consequences. My thoughts and prayers go out to every one involved. Especially to the ones still in the hospital and to the families of the one that died.

  • MyTakeOnIt

    One thing to consider is that for any job, if you've had bad luck in trying to sleep, you can't just call off work. You're penalized in some shape or form, aside from losing pay. I'm not talking about partying, drugs, or some factor that you can control. I am talking about allergies, baby sick, loud neighbors, road construction, sleep schedule irregular, etc. When that clock says it is time to go to work and the employer is pricky, you'd better get to work.

    11 hours on, 10 hours off, still does not equal an even 24 hour day and so a truck driver's schedule can be erratic and uneven. (Legal) coping mechanisms like using and abusing energy drinks to stay awake and sleeping pills to sleep wreak havoc on people. Where is the ability to say to an employer, "look, I need to take off because I was unable to get enough sleep before work or have reached a point of exhaustion now" without penalty? You know……the responsible thing to do.

    Consider this, too:
    Emergency workers like police, fire, hospital doctors and nurses, snow emergency plow drivers all do the 12-hour ON, 12-hour OFF thing. Where is the logic that people that need to be alert and coherent in their jobs are working that sort of schedule on a regular basis (except the snow emergency)? Then they get into their cars and drive home. As far as I know, only truck and bus drivers are monitored for illegal or unauthorized drug use and alcohol content (in random checks).

    The system is sick and is not going to be changing until more tragedies occur and more dangers are exposed.

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