Texoma truckers question deadly wreck involving comedian Tracy M - KTEN.com - No One Gets You Closer

Texoma truckers question deadly wreck involving comedian Tracy Morgan

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DENISON -- Tens of thousands of semis travel through Texoma every day.

Now, a wreck that critically injured comedian Tracy Morgan and killed his friend is driving conversation about trucker safety.

Dovie Callahan teaches a truck driving course at Grayson College.

She says the wreck in New Jersey early Saturday involving Morgan has some wondering how the truck driver ended up behind the wheel.

"Disbelief because good drivers don't do that," Callahan said.

The driver of the semi -- who lives in Georgia -- has been charged with death and assault by auto. Wednesday, he pleaded not guilty.

The criminal complaint alleges he'd gone without sleep for more than 24 hours when the accident happened.

If that's the case, Callahan says, he probably wasn't behind the wheel of the rig the whole time because electronic logs -- which she says are used by Wal-mart -- only allow drivers to work 11 hour shifts.

"Because of fatigue and fatigue causes accidents. You can't concentrate, you're not safe," she said.

Callahan says rules can't control what drivers do off-the-clock but that responsible drivers rest.

Wal-mart has said it will take full responsibility if authorities determine its truck caused the accident.

"Their reputation for safe drivers is awesome," Callahan said. "I know you have to have 2-5 experience before you can even apply."

The Department of Transportation estimates driver fatigue is a factor in 13% of truck crashes.

Last week, troopers in Texas and Oklahoma cracked down on safety violations, including keeping accurate log books that record a driver's total road time.

"The government and the industry take it seriously," Callahan said.

Last year, Callahan says new federal regulations went into effect reducing the maximum work week from 82 to 70 hours for big rig drivers.

But for truckers, more time on the road always reflects a bigger paycheck.

Morgan and six other people were in a limo bus when the wreck happened.

The truck driver allegedly swerved to avoid slowed traffic and plowed into the back of the limo.