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6/19/2014 12:00:00 PM Write a Letter to the Editor Write a letter to the Editor

NTSB Report: Wal-Mart Driver Was Within HOS Limits

The Wal-Mart Stores Inc. driver whose truck crashed into a limousine carrying actor Tracy Morgan was in the 14th hour of a work shift that began the day before, which is within allowable limits, according to a preliminary report from the National Transportation Safety Board.

The report also said the driver, 35-year-old Kevin Roper of Jonesboro, Georgia, may have been speeding.

FULL REPORT: From NTSB Web site.

Roper had spent June 6 making deliveries and pickups throughout New Jersey, Delaware and Pennsylvania, NTSB said. His work shift began at 11:22 a.m. EDT at a Wal-Mart facility in Smyrna, Delaware.

At 12:20 a.m. June 7, Roper left a company location near Bristol, Pennsylvania, en route to Perth Amboy, New Jersey, the safety board said. The crash occurred 30 minutes after leaving. The truck’s electronic log showed Roper had driven 9 hours, 37 minutes, NTSB said. He had been on duty for 13 hours, 32 minutes.  It is approximately 26 miles from Cranbury to Perth Amboy, according to Google Maps.

Under Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration rules, truck drivers may drive a maximum of 11 hours after 10 consecutive hours off duty. They may not drive beyond the 14th consecutive hour after coming on duty, after 10 consecutive hours off duty. Off-duty time does not extend the 14-hour period.

“The NTSB’s preliminary report cites – using electronic log data – that the driver in this incident was operating within the current hours-of-service limits, a fact ignored by groups seeking to erroneously tie this crash to the suspension of the unjustified restrictions on the use of the 34-hour restart,” said Sean McNally, vice president of public affairs for American Trucking Associations. “The restrictions on the restart raise crash risk and until those risks and other unintended impacts are studied, they should be suspended.”

The preliminary report also said the truck was traveling at 65 mph for the 60 seconds preceding the collision. About four-tenths of a mile south of the crash location on the northbound New Jersey Turnpike, speed limit signs were posted that reduced the speed from 55 mph to 45 mph. Traffic had slowed ahead, the report said, due to construction work on an overhead sign 2.7 miles north of the crash site.

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By Jeff Plungis
Bloomberg News

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