Comedian Tracy Morgan remains in critical condition following a deadly motor vehicle accident on the New Jersey Turnpike at around 1:00 AM Saturday morning. According to the New York Times, Morgan was returning from a comedy show in Delaware when the accident occurred.
Kevin Roper was reportedly driving a Wal-Mart tractor-trailer northbound on the New Jersey turnpike when he collided with Morgan's limousine van. Morgan's assistant Jeff Millea and fellow comedian Ardie Fuqua also sustained serious injuries as a result of the accident. Comedian James McNair, who performed under the name Jimmy Mack, died at the scene.
Reuters now reports that a criminal complaint filed against Roper alleges that he had not slept in more than twenty-four hours prior to the accident. Roper is charged with one count of death by auto and four counts of assault by auto.
New Jersey Law provides that a driver may be charged with vehicular homicide upon proof that the driver had not slept for more than twenty-four consecutive hours prior to a fatal accident. Under this law, proof of driving without sleep has the same legal effect as proof of driving while intoxicated. Several other states have enacted similar legislation.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that in 2012 an average of one person died every sixteen minutes in motor vehicle accidents. Of note, twelve percent of motor vehicle traffic fatalities involved large trucks. Seventy-three percent of those killed were occupants of other vehicles.