NTSB: Truck operator in Tracy Morgan crash was within hours limits, but speeding

| June 19, 2014
A 3D laser rendering from NTSB of the two key vehicles involved in the June 7 crash.

A 3D laser rendering from NTSB of the two key vehicles involved in the June 7 crash.

The National Transportation Safety Board has released a preliminary report on its findings in the fatal high-profile Walmart crash that killed comedian James McNair and severely injured actor Tracy Morgan, concluding Walmart driver Kevin Roper was traveling 20 mph over the posted 45 mph speed limit. 


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But the driver was within federal hours-of-service limits, the report notes, saying Roper went on duty 13 hours and 32 minutes prior to the crash and the driver had driven 9 hours and 37 minutes, according to the electronic logging device on the truck. Both of those figures are within the 14-hour on-duty and 11-hour drive-time limits, respectively.

 The June 7 crash came days after the Senate Appropriations Committee added an amendment in its annual DOT-funding bill to suspend some of the 34-hour restart provisions of the 2013 hours-of-service rule, sparking a debate about the HOS amendment and opposition in the Senate from some members, who plan to propose another amendment to kill the Appropriations Committee’s amendment. 

Debate about the measures is ongoing this week on the Senate floor.

The crash happened near Cranbury, N.J., on the New Jersey Turnpike in a construction zone, NTSB says in its report, and the 2011 Peterbilt driven for Walmart Transportation by Roper crashed into a 2012 Mercedes Sprinter van carrying McNair, Morgan, four other passengers and a driver.


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The tractor and the Sprinter subsequently hit four other vehicles, but none of the passengers in those vehicles required hospital visits.

Roper was piloting his truck and trailer 65 mph for 60 seconds prior to the crash, NTSB says, according to information obtained from the truck’s ECM.

About nine-tenths of a mile south of the crash’s location, warning signs notified northbound traffic of lane closures and speed drops — from 55 mph to 45 mph — ahead.

Roper has been charged with counts of vehicular homicide and assault by auto, but he has pleaded not guilty. 

  • dan g

    Cause u don’t log that u were working in the warehouse u log off duty then u go take ur 10 hr break after working sleeper

  • DriverDan

    That’s very true, yet it seems 4-Wheelers and “Professional Driver’s” alike rarely adhere to those speed limits unless of course you see a cop patrolling.

  • Bill tallant

    A post trip can go past the 14 hr rule! You just can’t drive past 11hrs or 14 hr.

  • Bill Tallant

    That’s the way it is go read the book !

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  • jmitchell

    No you on wrong you can be on duty however long you want you just cannot drive again until you take 10 off. You need to learn the rules if your goin to quote them.

  • McGruff

    No, you’re wrong. You can work as many hours as you want as long as you aren’t driving. BUT you have to take the legally required 10 hours off duty. You can work 80-90-even 100 hrs. The only negative effect on your allowable hrs left is once you have passed the 70 hour mark (whether driving or not driving) you will have to log a mandatory 34 hours off before beginning to drive.

  • Nick Lane

    Can’t argue with stupid been around 38 years in trucks . Ur right bigred stupidity can’t think that far a head. I have shut down 1 to 2 hours early KNOWING I did not have enough time to SAFELY make it some where. Pushing it only puts u at risk for trouble nowadays. Have a safe an happy life pushing it to the limit. Either way sorry for the lost of life

  • Donald Heath

    You have 14 hours to get your 11hours of driving in ,after the 14 you can’t drive but you can work ,unload etc

  • Donald Heath

    Just like in the tony Stewart wreck. If it hadn’t been a big time NASCAR driver they wouldn’t have made a big deal over it , someone else would. Have

  • JasonKane

    You can be on-duty past the 14. You just can’t drive after 14. You can be on duty 32 hours if you want and it’s perfectly legal as long as you didn’t drive after the 14 mark. Learn your HOS rules…

  • JasonKane

    You obviously don’t know HOS rules. You can work after 14, you just can’t DRIVE after the 14 mark.

  • JasonKane

    They always go after the highest charge, knowing that it’ll be knocked down to a manslaughter conviction. It’s all a negotiation game. If you were negotiating the price you were selling your car for, you don’t open with the absolute minimum you want to get for it.

  • Donald Heath

    No you can go over your 14 as long as your not driving

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