Big Rig driver charged in deadly incident shines light on driver - KYTX CBS 19 Tyler Longview News Weather Sports

Big Rig driver charged in deadly incident shines light on driver regulations

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TYLER (KYTX) - A fatal accident that also injured a celebrity is shining a light on big rig driving regulations. A trucker is charged in the deadly crash that also badly injured popular comedian Tracy Morgan and several others. Police say the driver charged, had been awake for 24 hours prior to the incident.

CBS 19'S Katiera Winfrey explains how a lack of sleep can impact a drivers abilities. Last July the Department of Transportation implemented new rules that require big rig drivers to drive no more than 70 hours a week.

The change was enacted to improve road safety and cut down on accidents.With the recent development involving the big rig driver charged in that accident... Some ask: was the driver following the rules?

The roads are dotted with big rigs, Behind the wheel - drivers who've often been on the road for a long haul.These massive machines dwarf your typical car...and in the event of an impact, the biggest one wins.

"This truck can easily turn into a killer machine," said Steve Hobbs who is a big rig driver.

The biggest thing truckers like himself have to avoid is driver fatigue.

"That's one of the worst thing you can do is to continue to drive under conditions where you're fatigued or stressed out."

It's that topic that investigators believe led to a deadly wreck in New Jersey. One person was killed and comedian Tracy Morgan and several others were badly injured.

The crash happened when Walmart big rig driver --Kevin Roper-- slammed into the back of the vehicle the group was riding in. He's been charged in the incident.

"The more sleep deprived you are the worst things get." Sleep medicine physician Daniel Obesso says, a large percentage of Americans are sleep deprived, saying studies have shown drivers awake longer than 16 hours are as hazardous as drunk drivers.

"You want to take a 15 to 20 minute nap, that lets you stay in the lighter stages of sleep...you can wake up refreshed."

He said it's important to avoid napping too long, because you wake up even more groggy.

Hobbs said, planning helps him keep fatigue at bay.

"We are considered professional drivers ans we are held to a higher standard. Like I said before, these machines can quickly turn into a killer machine and I couldn't live if someone got hurt."

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