Driver pleads not guilty in Tracy Morgan crash charges, HOS argument brims

| June 12, 2014

Walmart driver Kevin Roper has pleaded not guilty to the vehicular homicide and assault by auto charges filed against him in the June 7 crash that killed comedian James McNair and critically injured actor Tracy Morgan.

The complaint filed against Roper said he had been operating recklessly, and several news outlets have reported since the crash that he had not slept in 24 hours, though he had reportedly taken the proper off-duty time per federal hours-of-service regulations.

Related

Teamsters come out against hours changes, ATA still supportive

The Teamsters Union has voiced its opposition to recent Congressional action to roll back the 2013 changes to federal hours-of-service restart provisions, but ATA head Bill Graves is holding strong on the group’s support for suspending the changes.

Walmart President and CEO Bill Simon said in a statement company representatives were “praying for the family and friends of the passenger who lost his life in the terrible accident in New Jersey. Our hearts go out to everyone involved and we hope those who were injured get the care that they need and make a full recovery.”

Simon further acknowledged the involvement of a Walmart truck and pledged that, as facts unfold, “if it’s determined that our truck caused the accident, Walmart will take full responsibility.”

The crash took place at approximately 1 a.m. Saturday morning. Regarding several news reports that suggested the driver had been awake working for 24 hours prior to the accident, Walmart spokesperson Brooke Buchanan issued a statement Monday, June 9, saying that “it is our belief that Mr. Roper was operating within the federal hours of service regulations. The details are the subject of the ongoing investigation and we are cooperating fully with the appropriate law enforcement agencies. The investigation is ongoing and unfortunately we can’t comment further on the specifics.”

Related

Third lawsuit filed in FedEx truck crash that killed 10

A third lawsuit has been filed in the California collision between a FedEx truck and bus of high school students that left 10 dead.

The high profile incident placed “the issue of highway safety, and in particular the safety of the trucking industry … at the forefront of the national conversation,” said a written statement from American Trucking Associations President and CEO Bill Graves, who also took the opportunity to express condolences to “the victims of this tragedy and their families…. Every crash on our highways is a tragedy and that’s why the industry places safety as our highest priority.”

Graves also stressed in his statement the nature of the hours regulations, noting that they “only place limits on driving and on-duty time and require that between work periods drivers take a minimum of 10 consecutive hours off-duty.” He emphasized that “they do not dictate what drivers do during that off-duty period.”

Graves also affirmed his support for the Senate’s recent action to try to suspend some of the hours of service rule changes from 2013.

The Teamsters this week, however, came out in opposition to rolling back the rule change, using the Tracy Morgan crash as support for its position.

Click here to read more about the Teamsters’ and ATA’s positions. 

  • David

    If you guys actually bothered to read a few different articles. You wouldve found out that the wallmart driver stated himself that he did not say anything about being up for 24 hours. wallmart also did not admit fault for the accident because ita still under investigation . The drivers is being screwed because the accident involved someone famous. All an accident like this wouldve took is a tired four wheeler suddenly changing lanes, stopped traffic and a truck with nowhere to go.

  • Charlie

    Walmart only ran their truck 667 MILLION miles. For crying out loud ! You would think they could do better than all those wrecks. Just shut up!

  • William McKelvie

    Boy that surely told me alot. Thanks. :) It will be interesting to see just what this dum dum actually did before he got behind the wheel of the rig, huh? It will also be very interesting to see just what his HOS is for the week and that day and other days as well. Proof positive that you can have ALL the electronic so called safety devices and still have accidents. So much for Ferro and her necessary mandate of these machines to keep everyone safer huh?

  • martymarsh

    And just who do you think you are little man? You are one of those that hype the pluses and never mention the minuses because you want to be perfect, not in this world slick.

  • Cwbintennessee Michael Winton

    If this doesn’t prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that no matter what electronic shit you throw at the driver fatigue problem like Anne S. Ferro , the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration , and Anthony Foxx are doing means nothing, then nothing will change for the better.

    You don’t throw electronic gizmos and DOT revenue money at the problem. The problem is these carriers that train these drivers are dumb. Chances are the guy was told to drive or get fired by his Walmart dispatcher. I have been on the receiving end of threats like that when i drove for 8 years and it’s not a fun feeling to have your job dangled in front of you like a carrot on a string.

  • martymarsh

    I agree with everything you said until you got to the stopped traffic part, if you had said no where to go when not paying attention then I could have went along with the rest. There is no reason for hitting stopped traffic except incompetence. Not paying attention is incompetence.

  • jk651

    I am an hourly driver and I do not get overtime after 40 hours. Agriculture and truck driving are exempt from overtime pay because it’s commonly accepted that our typical workweek is greater than 40 hours.

  • cjmarley

    How many companies also have an 11 – 14 hour work day? There’s a few…but that’s rare.

  • TM

    Don’t believe everything the news media puts out there 75% or more is fabricated. I know from fact.

  • disqus_Jhf5ZbXoUU

    Not really. The vast majority of every factory in the world has 12+ hour work days

  • Mind Games

    Graves go F yourself you corporate lap dog! What he does off duty is his business and none of yours! You and your little rich crew are the problem, you bribe the Congress and the Senate and this is what you and your gang members get in return. Deal with it!

  • JeffreyTrucker

    It does make the smartest man look stupid. Especially if he doesn’t proof read.

  • Gearjamn

    You know just because it says your supposed to sleep on your 10 hour break does not mean your sleepy or that you can fall asleep. But the trucking company schedules your pickups and deliveries around these asinine unsafe laws and practices dictated by the FMCSA as if we are robots that sleep , drive , sleep drive as if we are robots !!! Warning warning FMCSA were not robots !!!! If I were this driver I would sue the FMCSA for unsafe policies and regulations in trying to dictate our bodies rhythms and causing us to drive unsafe without rest at times due to their rules, they made these rules so when an accident occurs due to their stupidity they should be held accountable for Thier unsafe laws and actions in cases such as these. They do it to us daily in everything we do it is high time we hold them up to scrutiny of Thier one size fits all unsafe laws .

  • knightdriver

    WalMart hire only the best drivers, they have to be at least 300,000 accident free miles, NO moving violations, NO CSA violations, it was an accident a probably his only accident in his whole career. Now he may go to jail for many years. I pray that this man can find some peace after all this is over. I also question if the occupants in the Limo were wearing seatbelts, by the sound of the reports I don’t think so, maybe the injuries would have been less.

  • cjmarley

    You’re talking world…I’m talking US. I’ve worked factory jobs. Never worked more than 10 hrs.

  • buckeyedriver

    The ATA and Teamsters are a big part of the reason we have these regs. They have bastardized the system and slit the throats of there own kind. They are a special kind of stupid.

  • Todd

    There are companies that allow tjeir employees to nap, Google is one of many. It has been proven that a 10 min nap goes a long way to help with late day fatigue

  • Todd

    Most factories that run 24hrs have swing shifts and unless orders are high they work their employees 8hr shifts to avoid overtime

  • Suzi

    In California the first words out of the CHP on the news was the driver might of been sleeping. Hey dude maybe a four wheeler caused the accident by cutting him off and he tried to avoid hitting that car. Maybe his Firestone tire blew due to ill workmanship and he could not control the truck at 55 speed. Maybe, maybe, maybe….but they first said he was sleepy. There are a lot of maybes but will they ever know due to the fire that destroyed all the maybes. ??? maybe the CHP will shut their mouths and stop pointing their fingers at drivers and look at all the maybe’s and not always saying the driver was asleep.

  • Jason Haggard

    So in other words you are no different than the people in the four wheelers who have the phone stuck to their head instead of driving….nice.

  • unclejoe

    this smells like a crooked cop who thinks he has altered the log book he doesent know that wallmart keeps a separate copy by satellite and the crooked press is running with it

  • josh

    How many companies do you know that require their employees to live at their place of work for at least a week at a time??

  • guest

    Tony Fisher is exactly correct…this routine has gone on forever….they will always keep pushing the driver to work and deliver on time….even if he wrecks in the process…they dont care…thats what insurance is for…they are basically evil devils….greedy pigs…they dont give a Damn about anybody…just MONEY.

  • Viki

    Mmm… Sounds like 2000 Drvr Trainer Nick ‘HotShot’ B’ who would stand up on straightaway Interstate & OneHand the Steer Wheel & walk over & reach into Passenger side Overhead for different Map Book. He’d cockily let it track briefly minus ANY hand on steer wheel. That are hole threw me out of sleeper bunk onto floor once with his shenanigans & tailgating. I learned quick I had to sleep with full bunk Web seat belt ON & even then I regularly got slammed around in bunk & never fully restful sleep when that idiot drove. Company like S//// paying 26cent mile to Sch House contract trainee likes to use that cheaper drive team out west in California where diesel so expensive.
    Also even if Driver fresh off Reset & was in sleeper, problem is that it depends on freight whether that Driver’s PTA/Projected Time of Availability will or can be utilized for the time it was set. So, u hav driver ready rested at PTA who may not get load assigned for 2hr or 10hr or 20hr or until next day at NOON. Then the Driver too has to review load info & check if addresses good & whether appointments for pick/up & delivery are safe/legal. If it was problematic obtaining correct street number address or accurate cross street that will work to determine actual drive miles & GPS ROUTE versus crow – fly paid miles to edge of ZIP CODE Customer ‘x’ located which is miles listed load, & a lot of companies use crow fly miles vs. actual miles as basis for Load Assignment mileage pay. So, it is incumbent upon driver to LOG IT ‘ON DUTY NOT DRIVING’ & START 14HR CLOCK if it took 5 to 8 messages & Yellow Pages App &/or Google/yahoo biz name search to get customer’s main phone number versus CSR who not available. All that had to take at least hour or more once in a while. And any attorney in Discovery Process will find this & fall back on the tried & true ploy allegation that ‘all drivers are liars’. Instructor MSCarriers strongly cautioned against allowing yourself to fall into that trap; & to stand up for yourself & do the right thing g for others, as you would prefer another trucker would be doing back in your Home20 around your spouse in family car/pick-up/schBus.
    If you are driving tired, it truly is your own fault & no HOURS RULES will fix this.

  • shortchange

    The more you try to be safe the more you become reckless. you can’t
    make people be safe. That’s why there called accidents. Ferro is out
    to prove a point. Trucking is the only profession they make out the
    drivers criminals. Roper didn’t violate any of her rules or any laws.
    The case well come down to he said she said. So much for being a free country. Every body takes the same chances when they get out
    bed every day some die some live to see the next day and life goes on
    that’s the way it is.

  • Viki

    True

  • redjeb

    The 14 hour clock is a death trap.

  • Jimmy the Greek

    It’s no different than holding a mic and talking on the CB !

  • Jimmy the Greek

    like china !

  • Kevin J. Reidy

    Someone please explain to me why the EOBR WalMart uses in their tractors didn’t prevent that accident…oh, wait, contrary to everything the FMCSA says they are there for ‘safety’, they are only good for enforcement.

    No matter what type of logging device that driver could have been using, he still would have crashed if he fell asleep due to not getting proper rest on his off-duty time.

  • amdriven

    You do know the old rules only required 8 hours off.

  • amdriven

    Thousands. But, they are mainly trucking companies. That is the nature of the industry. People know this going in. they have TVs DVD players, video games, internet, refrigerators, and some even cook in their houses (trucks). And, they write off their meal costs on their taxes. No body forces a person to live in a 8 x8 box. It’s a chosen career move.

  • amdriven

    There are many companies that have more than 8 hour shifts. Heck, just last night at the company I work for, forced an employee to work a double. That’s 16 hours. We also have a guy that works doubles every day.

  • amdriven

    You also might find that many Police agencies in the U.S. work 12 hour shifts. Also, drop by your local grocery store and see the venders making their deliveries. You will find most work 11 hour days.

  • amdriven

    I had a driver go passed me one day, with both legs up on the seat. The best one of all times wasn’t a truck, it was a car. As they passed what I saw was very disturbing. The driver had his seat reclined, napping. His wife was steering from the passenger side and reading a book.

  • easy454

    putting a retired 35 plus year veteren driver / owner-operator in there to run it would make to much sense. when in the last 5 yrs has our government done something that has done the people some good

  • easy454

    10 yrs aint shit and and it all boils down to he was
    ‘nt paying attention and wrecked and if it wasn’t a public figure we would not be having this stupid ass hoopla

  • centerlaneshow

    Follow the reports ( They Believe he was working for 24hrs) this is speculation with no proof. Should this driver be facing this charge yes or no I believe NO. How many people die on our interstate system whether from a car hitting someone or a truck. This is an unfortunate accident that’s all but it seems to have turned into a witch hunt.

  • Kolohe

    I do believe there is such a thing as over-regulating and it doesn’t matter how much you legislate; “Stupid” is here to stay. Who knows what lead up to the crash? I think it’s pointless to speculate what really happened until the facts are on the table.

  • Tazz

    No law is stopping anyone from stopping and taking a nap. Quit telling that damn lie before we end up with a mandated 2 hour break every four hours.

  • David

    I meant more of in a situation where traffics stopped ahead and you are already stopping but then someone cuts in front of you and hits there breaks hard because of the stopped traffic. I have had several close calls like this. If it wasnt for the shoulder id have hit someone the other day who was 2 busy texting to see stopped traffic.

  • martymarsh

    And I understand exactly what you are talking about, and it should be obvious if you got out of it, it was because you are ready for anything like you should be.

  • Brad Kayganich

    How do we know the chauffeur didn’t cut off the Wal-Mart rig slamming on the brakes?

  • Tom AndSheila Hurd

    I have a friend who is a doctor that works 36 hour shifts, he admits that by the end of his shift he is as responsive as a drunk but it is legal and he gets the rest of the week off. Where are the legislators when doctors hold your life in their hands and can’t function. What is and is not safe has nothing to do with HOS regs, just follow the money that is flowing to the legislators and you will find the rail roads at the top of the list trying to regulate trucks. It is economics not safety.

  • jan johnson

    I’ve have run with Walmart driver’s 65 miles per hour all the way.